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I 


WORKS   OF  JACK   LONDON 

The  Game 

The  Sea- Wolf 

The  Call  of  the  Wild 

The  Children  of  the  Frost 

People  of  the  Abyss 

The  Faith  of  Men  a^nd  Other  Stories 

War  op  the  Classes 

The  Kemptox-Wace  Letters 

Tales  of  the  Fish  Patrol 

Moon-Face  and  Other  Stories 

White  Fang 


PUBLISHED   BY 
THE   MACMILLAN   COMPANY 


WHITE    FANG 


BY 


JACK    LONDON 

AUTHOB  OF  "the  CALL   OF  TITS  WILD,"    "  THJC 
SKA  WOLF,"    ETC.,   BTC. 


THE  MACMILLAN   COMPANY 

LONDON:  MACimXAN  &  CO.,  Ltd. 

1906 

All  righU  re^eirved 


j-^  ooinn  :^  ri-O 


•;  i  '  ■  / 


C-    -'  » 


COPYBIOHT,  1906, 

By  jack  LONDON. 
Copyright,  1906, 

bt  the  outing  publishing  company. 

COPTBIOKT,  1906,  \ 

Bt  the  MACMILLAN  COMPANY.       r 


Set  up  and  electrotyped.     Published  October,  1906. 


J.  8c  Gushing  ^  Co.  —  Berwick  &  Smith  Co. 
Korsvood,  Mass.,  U.S.A. 


CONTENTS 


PART  ONE 


THE  Wn.D 


I.     The  Trail  of  the  Meat 
II.     The  She- wolf   . 
in.    The  Hunger  Cry    . 


3 

15 
30 


PART  TWO 


BORN  OF  THE  WILD 


L 

The  Battle  of  the  Fangs    . 

.        .        .49 

II. 

The  Lair 

.64 

III. 

The  Gray  Cub 

.        .        .      76 

IV. 

The  Wall  of  the  World     . 

.          84: 

V. 

The  Law  of  Meat 

.        .        ,     101 

cj  PART   THREE 

^^  THE   GODS  OF  THE   WILD 

.    The  Makers  of  Fire 113 

.    The  Bondage 130 

.    The  Outcast 143 

.    The  Trail  of  the  Gods 150 

.    The  Covenant •        .        .  158 

.    The  Famine .171 

V 


VI 


CONTENTS 


PART   FOUR 
THE  SUPERIOR  GODS 


DUAPn 

I. 

SK 

The  Enemy  of  his  Kind        .        .        . 

PA&3 

.    187 

II. 

The  Mad  God /. 

.202 

in. 

The  Reign  op  Hats        .        .        .        . 

.215 

IV. 

The  Cllnging  Death      .... 

.    223 

Y. 

The  Indomitable 

.        .240 

YI. 

The  Love-Master    ..... 

PART   FIVE 
THE  TAIVIE 

.        .    249 

I. 

The  Long  Trail      ..... 

.    271 

II. 

The  Southland        

.    279 

ni. 

The  God's  Domain  .        ,        .        1        . 

.    289 

lY. 

The  Call  of  Kind 

.    305 

Y. 

The  Sleeping  Wolf        .        .        .        . 

.        .        .    315 

ILLUSTRATIONS 

"The  whole  pack,  on  haunches,  with  noses  pointed  skyward, 

was  howling  its  hunger  cry  " Frontispiece 

FACING   PAGE 

"  He  watched  the  play  of  life  before  him  " 72 

"  They  were  fire-makers  !     They  were  gods !  "      .         .         .         .     128 

"He  felt  the  lurking  of  danger,  unseen  and  unguessed  "      .         .     152 

"  To  him,  in  appearance  and  action  and  impulse,  still  clung  the 

Wild" 190 

"  White  Fang  tore  wildly  around,  trying  to  shake  off  the  bull- 
dog's body"    .228 

"  White  Fang  was  howling  as  dogs  howl  when  their  masters  lie 

dead" 276 

"  In  the  woods,  side  by  side.  White  Fang  ran  with  Collie  "         .    314 


Vll 


PART    ONE 
THE  WILD 

Chapter      I        .        .        .        The  Trail  of  the  Meat 
Chapter    II        .        .        .        The  She-wolf 
Chapter  III        .        .        .        The  Hunger  Cry 


F^ 


•'^■■•rw.;>:r..-v--;-;^ 


■^jr--:!j?:>n 


WHITE  ¥ANa 

CHAPTER   I 

THE   TRAIL   OF    THE  MEAT 

Dark  spruce  forest  frowned  on  either  side  the 
frozen  waterway.  The  trees  had  been  stripped  by 
a  recent  wind  of  their  white  covering  of  frost,  and 
they  seemed  to  lean  toward  each  other,  black  and 
ominous,  in  the  fading  light.  A  vast  silence  reigned 
over  the  land.  The  land  itself  was  a  desolation,  life- 
less, without  movement,  so  lone  and  cold  that  the 
spirit  of  it  was  not  even  that  of  sadness.  There  was 
a  hint  in  it  of  laughter,  but  of  a  laughter  more  ter- 
rible than  any  sadness  —  a  laughter  that  was  mirth- 
less as  the  smile  of  the  Sphinx,  a  laughter  cold  as  the 
frost  and  partaking  of  the  grimness  of  infallibility. 
It  was  the  masterful  and  incommunicable  wisdom  of 
eternity  laughing  at  the  futility  of  life  and  the  effort 
of  life.  It  was  the  Wild,  the  savage,  frozen-hearted 
Northland  Wild. 

But  there  was  life,  abroad  in  the  land  and  defiant. 
Down  the  frozen  waterway  toiled  a  string  of  wolfish 
dogs.    Their  bristly  fur  was  rimed  with  frost.     Their 


4  WHITE    FANG 

breath  froze  in  the  air  as  it  left  their  mouths,  spout- 
ing forth  in  spumes  of  vapor  that  settled  upon  the 
hair  of  their  bodies  and  formed  into  crystals  of  frost. 
Leather  harness  was  on  the  dogs,  and  leather  traces 
attached  them  to  a  sled  which  dragged  along  behind. 
The  sled  was  without  runners.  It  was  made  of  stout 
birch-bark,  and  its  full  surface  rested  on  the  snow. 
The  front  end  of  the  sled  w^as  turned  up,  like  a  scroll, 
in  order  to  force  down  and  under  the  bore  of  soft 
snow  that  surged  like  a  wave  before  it.  On  the  sled, 
securely  lashed,  was  a  long  and  narrow  oblong  box. 
There  were  other  things  on  the  sled  —  blankets,  an 
axe,  and  a  coffee-pot  and  frying-pan ;  but  prominent, 
occupying  most  of  the  space,  was  the  long  and  narrow 
oblong  box. 

In  advance  of  the  dogs,  on  wide  snowshoes,  toiled 
a  man.  At  the  rear  of  the  sled  toiled  a  second  man. 
On  the  sled,  in  the  box,  lay  a  third  man  whose  toil 
was  over,  —  a  man  whom  the  Wild  had  conquered 
and  beaten  down  until  he  would  never  move  nor 
struggle  again.  It  is  not  the  way  of  the  Wild  to 
like  movement.  Life  is  an  offence  to  it,  for  life  is 
movement ;  and  the  Wild  aims  always  to  destroy 
movement.  It  freezes  the  water  to  prevent  it  run- 
ning to  the  sea ;  it  drives  the  sap  out  of  the  trees 
till  they  are  frozen  to  their  mighty  hearts ;  and  most 
ferociously  and  terribly  of  all  does  the  Wild  harry 
and   crush  into  submission   man  —  man,  who  is  the 


THE   TRAIL    OF   THE    MEAT  5 

most  restless  of  life,  ever  in  revolt  against  the  dic- 
tum that  all  movement  must  in  the  end  come  to  the 
cessation  of  movement. 

But  at  front  and  rear,  unav^ed  and  indomitable, 
toiled  the  tvv^o  men  who  w^ere  not  yet  dead.  Their 
bodies  w^ere  covered  wdth  fur  and  soft-tanned  leather. 
Eyelashes  and  cheeks  and  lips  were  so  coated  with 
the  crystals  from  their  frozen  breath  that  their  faces 
were  not  discernible.  This  gave  them  the  seeming 
of  ghostly  masques,  undertakers  in  a  spectral  world 
at  the  funeral  of  some  ghost.  But  under  it  all  they 
were  men,  penetrating  the  land  of  desolation  and 
mockery  and  silence,  puny  adventurers  bent  on  colos- 
sal adventure,  pitting  themselves  against  the  might 
of  a  world  as  remote  and  alien  and  pulseless  as  the 
abysses  of  space. 

They  travelled  on  without  speech,  saving  their 
breath  for  the  work  of  their  bodies.  On  every  side 
was  the  silence,  pressing  upon  them  with  a  tangible 
presence.  It  affected  their  minds  as  the  many  atmos- 
pheres of  deep  water  affect  the  body  of  the  diver. 
It  crushed  them  with  the  weight  of  unending  vast- 
ness  and  unalterable  decree.  It  crushed  them  into 
the  remotest  recesses  of  their  own  minds,  pressing 
out  of  them,  like  juices  from  the  grape,  all  the  false 
ardors  and  exaltations  and  undue  self-values  of  the 
human  soul,  until  they  perceived  themselves  finite 
and    small,    specks    and    motes,   moving    with  weak 


6  WHITE    FANG 

cunning  and  little  wisdom  amidst  the  play  and  inter- 
play of  the  great  blind  elements  and  forces. 

An  hour  went  by,  and  a  second  hour.  The  pale 
light  of  the  short  sunless  day  was  beginning  to 
fade,  when  a  faint  far  cry  arose  on  the  still  air. 
It  soared  upward  with  a  swift  rush,  till  it 
reached  its  topmost  note,  where  it  persisted,  palpi- 
tant and  tense,  and  then  slowly  died  away.  It 
might  have  been  a  lost  soul  wailing,  had  it  not 
been  invested  with  a  certain  sad  fierceness  and  hun- 
gry eagerness.  The  front  man  turned  his  head 
until  his  eyes  met  the  eyes  of  the  man  behind. 
And  then,  across  the  narrow  oblong  box,  each 
nodded  to  the  other. 

A  second  cry  arose,  piercing  the  silence  with  needle- 
like shrillness.  Both  men  located  the  sound.  It  was 
to  the  rear,  somewhere  in  the  snow  expanse  they  had 
just  traversed.  A  third  and  answering  cry  arose,  also 
to  the  rear  and  to  the  left  of  the  second  cry. 

"  They're  after  us.  Bill,"  said  the  man  at  the  front. 

His  voice  sounded  hoarse  and  unreal,  and  he  had 
spoken  w^ith  apparent  effort. 

"  Meat  is  scarce,"  answered  his  comrade.  "  I  ain't 
seen  a  rabbit  sign  for  days." 

Thereafter  they  spoke  no  more,  though  their  ears 
were  keen  for  the  hunting-cries  that  continued  to 
rise  behind  them. 

At  the  fall  of  darkness  they  swung  the  dogs  into  a 


THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   MEAT  7 

cluster  of  spruce  trees  on  the  edge  of  the  waterway 
and  made  a  camp.  The  coffin,  at  the  side  of  the 
fire,  served  for  seat  and  table.  The  wolf-dogs,  clus- 
tered on  the  far  side  of  the  fire,  snarled  and  bickered 
among  themselves,  but  evinced  no  inclination  to  stray 
off  into  the  darkness. 

"  Seems  to  me,  Henry,  they're  stayin'  remarkable 
close  to  camp,"  Bill  commented. 

Henry,  squatting  over  the  fire  and  settling  the  pot 
of  coffee  with  a  piece  of  ice,  nodded.  Nor  did  he 
speak  till  he  had  taken  his  seat  on  the  coffin 
and  begun  to  eat. 

"  They  know  where  their  hides  is  safe,"  he  said. 
"  They'd  sooner  eat  grub  than  be  grub.  They're 
pretty  wise,  them  dogs." 

Bill  shook  his  head.     "  Oh,  I  don't  know." 

His  comrade  looked  at  him  curiously.  "  First  time 
I  ever  heard  you  say  anythin'  about  their  not  bein' 
wise." 

«  Henry,"  said  the  other,  munching  with  delibera- 
tion the  beans  he  was  eating,  "  did  you  happen  to 
notice  the  way  them  dogs  kicked  up  when  I  was 
a-feedin'  'em  ?  " 

"  They  did  cut  up  more'n  usual,"  Henry  acknowl- 
edged. 

"  How  many  dogs  've  we  got,  Henry  ?  " 

"Six." 

"  Well,  Henry  .  .  ."    Bill  stopped  for  a  moment. 


8  WHITE   FANG 

in  order  that  his  words  might  gain  greater  signifi- 
cance. "  As  I  was  sayin',  Henry,  we've  got  six 
dogs.  I  took  six  fish  out  of  the  bag.  I  gave  one 
fish  to  each  dog,  an',  Henry,  I  was  one  fish  short." 

"  You  counted  wrong." 

u  We've  got  six  dogs,"  the  other  reiterated  dispas- 
sionately. "  I  took  out  six  fish.  One  Ear  didn't  get 
no  fish.  I  come  back  to  the  bag  afterward  an'  got 
'm  his  fish." 

a  We've  only  got  six  dogs,"  Henry  said. 

"  Henry,"  Bill  went  on,  "  I  won't  say  they  was 
all  dogs,  but  there  was  seven  of  'm  that  got  fish." 

Henry  stopped  eating  to  glance  across  the  fire  and 
count  the  dogs. 

«  There's  only  six  now,"  he  said. 

« I  saw  the  other  one  run  off  across  the  snow,"  Bill 
announced  with  cool  positiveness.     "  I  saw  seven." 

His  comrade  looked  at  him  commiseratingly,  and 
said,  "  I'll  be  almighty  glad  when  this  trip's  over." 

"  What  d'ye  mean  by  that  ?  "  Bill  demanded. 

"  I  mean  that  this  load  of  ourn  is  gettin'  on  your 
nerves,  an'  that  you're  beginnin'  to  see  things." 

"  I  thought  of  that,"  Bill  answered  gravely.  "  An' 
so,  when  I  saw  it  run  off  across  the  snow,  I  looked 
in  the  snow  an'  saw  its  tracks.  Then  I  counted  the 
dogs  an'  there  was  still  six  of  'em.  The  tracks  is 
there  in  the  snow  now.  D'ye  want  to  look  at  'em  ? 
I'll  show  'm  to  you." 


THE  TRAIL   OF   THE   MEAT  9 

Henry  did  not  reply,  but  munched  on  in  silence, 
until,  the  meal  finished,  he  topped  it  with  a  final 
cup  of  coffee.  He  wiped  his  mouth  with  the  back 
of  his  hand  and  said : 

"  Then  you're  thinkin'  as  it  was  —  " 

A  long  wailing  cry,  fiercely  sad,  from  somewhere 
in  the  darkness,  had  interrupted  him.  He  stopped  to 
listen  to  it,  then  he  finished  his  sentence  with  a  wave 
of  his  hand  toward  the  sound  of  the  cry,  "  —  one  of 
them  ?  " 

Bill  nodded.  "  I'd  a  blame  sight  sooner  think  that 
than  anything  else.  You  noticed  yourself  the  row 
the  dogs  made." 

Cry  after  cry,  and  answering  cries,  were  turning 
the  silence  into  a  bedlam.  From  every  side  the  cries 
arose,  and  the  dogs  betrayed  their  fear  by  huddling 
together  and  so  close  to  the  fire  that  their  hair  w^as 
scorched  by  the  heat.  Bill  threw  on  more  wood, 
before  lighting  his  pipe. 

"  I'm  thinkin'  you're  down  in  the  mouth  some," 
Henry  said. 

"Henry  .  .  ."  He  sucked  meditatively  at  his 
pipe  for  some  time  before  he  went  on.  "  Henry,  I 
was  a-thinkin'  what  a  blame  sight  luckier  he  is  than 
you  an'  me'll  ever  be." 

He  indicated  the  third  person  by  a  downward 
thrust  of  the  thumb  to  the  box  on  which  they  sat. 

"  You  an'  me,  Henry,  when  we  die,  we'll  be  lucky 


10  WHITE   FANG 

if  we  get  enough  stones  over  our  carcases  to  keep  the 
dogs  off  of  us." 

"  But  we  ain't  got  people  an'  money  an'  all  the 
rest,  like  him,"  Henry  rejoined.  "  Long-distance 
funerals  is  somethin'  you  an'  me  can't  exactly 
afford." 

"  What  gets  me,  Henry,  is  what  a  chap  like  this, 
that's  a  lord  or  something  in  his  own  country,  and 
that's  never  had  to  bother  about  grub  nor  blankets, 
why  he  comes  a-buttin'  round  the  God-forsaken  ends 
of  the  earth  —  that's  what  I  can't  exactly  see." 

"  He  might  have  lived  to  a  ripe  old  age  if  he'd 
stayed  to  home,"  Henry  agreed. 

Bill  opened  his  mouth  to  speak,  but  changed  his 
mind.  Instead,  he  pointed  toward  the  wall  of  dark- 
ness that  pressed  about  them  from  every  side.  There 
was  no  suggestion  of  form  in  the  utter  blackness ; 
only  could  be  seen  a  pair  of  eyes  gleaming  like  live 
coals.  Henry  indicated  with  his  head  a  second  pair, 
and  a  third.  A  circle  of  the  gleaming  eyes  had 
drawn  about  their  camp.  Now  and  again  a  pair 
of  eyes  moved,  or  disappeared  to  appear  again  a 
moment  later. 

The  unrest  of  the  dogs  had  been  increasing,  and 
they  stampeded,  in  a  surge  of  sudden  fear,  to  the  near 
side  of  the  fire,  cringing  and  crawling  about  the  legs 
of  the  men.  In  the  scramble  one  of  the  dogs  had 
been  overturned  on  the  edge  of  the  fire,  and  it  had 


THE   TRAIL    OF   THE    MEAT  11 

yelped  with  pain  and  fright  as  the  smell  of  its  singed 
coat  possessed  the  air.  The  commotion  caused  the 
circle  of  eyes  to  shift  restlessly  for  a  moment  and 
even  to  withdraw  a  bit,  but  it  settled  down  again  as 
the  dogs  became  quiet. 

"  Henry,  it's  a  blame  misfortune  to  be  out  of 
ammunition," 

Bill  had  finished  his  pipe  and  was  helping  his  com- 
panion spread  the  bed  of  fur  and  blanket  upon  the 
spruce  boughs  which  he  had  laid  over  the  snow 
before  supper.  Henry  grunted,  and  began  unlacing 
his  moccasins. 

"  How  many  cartridges  did  you  say  you  had  left  ?  " 
he  asked. 

"  Three,"  came  the  answer.  "  An'  I  wisht  'twas 
three  hundred.  Then  I'd  show  'em  what  for,  damn 
'em  !  " 

He  shook  his  fist  angrily  at  the  gleaming  eyes,  and 
began  securely  to  prop  his  moccasins  before  the 
fire. 

"  An'  I  wisht  this  cold  snap'd  break,"  he  went  on. 
"  It's  ben  fifty  below  for  two  weeks  now.  An'  I 
wisht  I'd  never  started  on  this  trip,  Henry.  I  don't 
like  the  looks  of  it.  It  don't  feel  right,  somehow. 
An'  while  I'm  wishin',  I  wisht  the  trip  was  over  an' 
done  with,  an'  you  an'  me  a-sittin'  by  the  fire  in  Fort 
McGurry  just  about  now  an'  playin'  cribbage  —  that's, 
what  I  wisht." 


12  WHITE   FANG 

Henry  grunted  and  crawled  into  bed.  As  he  dozed 
off  he  was  aroused  by  his  comrade's  voice. 

"  Say,  Henry,  that  other  one  that  come  in  an'  got 
a  fish  —  why  didn't  the  dogs  pitch  into  it  ?  That's 
what's  botherin'  me." 

"  You're  botherin'  too  much,  Bill,"  came  the  sleepy 
response.  "  You  was  never  like  this  before.  You  jes' 
shut  up  now,  an'  go  to  sleep,  an'  you'll  be  all  hunky- 
dory  in  the  mornin'.  Your  stomach's  sour,  that's 
what's  botherin'  you." 

The  men  slept,  breathing  heavily,  side  by  side, 
under  the  one  covering.  The  fire  died  down,  and  the 
gleaming  eyes  drew  closer  the  circle  they  had  flung 
about  the  camp.  The  dogs  clustered  together  in  fear, 
now  and  again  snarling  menacingly  as  a  pair  of  eyes 
drew  close.  Once  their  uproar  became  so  loud  that 
Bill  woke  up.  He  got  out  of  bed  carefully,  so  as  not 
to  disturb  the  sleep  of  his  comrade,  and  threw  more 
wood  on  the  fire.  As  it  began  to  flame  up,  the  circle 
of  eyes  drew  farther  back.  He  glanced  casually  at 
the  huddling  dogs.  He  rubbed  his  eyes  and  looked 
at  them  more  sharply.  Then  he  crawled  back  into 
the  blankets. 

"  Henry,"  he  said.     "  Oh,  Henry." 

Henry  groaned  as  he  passed  from  sleep  to  waking, 
and  demanded,  "  What's  wrong  now  ?  " 

"  No  thin',"  came  the  answer ;  "  only  there's  seven 
of  'em  again.     I  just  counted." 


THE  TRAIL   OF  THE   MEAT  13 

Henry  acknowledged  receipt  of  the  information 
with  a  grunt  that  slid  into  a  snore  as  he  drifted  back 
into  sleep. 

In  the  morning  it  was  Henry  who  awoke  first  and 
routed  his  companion  out  of  bed.  Daylight  was  yet 
three  hours  away,  though  it  was  already  six  o'clock ; 
and  in  the  darkness  Henry  went  about  preparing 
breakfast,  while  Bill  rolled  the  blankets  and  made 
the  sled  ready  for  lashing. 

"  Say,  Henry,"  he  asked  suddenly,  "  how  many 
dogs  did  you  say  w^e  had  ?  " 

"  Six." 

"Wrong,"  Bill  proclaimed  triumphantly. 

"  Seven  again  ?  "  Henry  queried. 

"  No,  five  ;  one's  gone." 

"  The  hell ! "  Henry  cried  in  wrath,  leaving  the 
cooking  to  come  and  count  the  dogs. 

"You're  right,  Bill,"  he  concluded.  "Fatty's 
gone." 

"  An'  he  went  like  greased  lightnin'  once  he  got 
started.     Couldn't  've  seen  'm  for  smoke." 

"  No  chance  at  all,"  Henry  concluded.  "  They  jes' 
swallowed  'm  alive.  I  bet  he  was  yelpin'  as  he  went 
down  their  throats,  damn  'em  ! " 

"  He  always  was  a  fool  dog,"  said  Bill. 

"  But  no  fool  dog  ought  to  be  fool  enough  to  go  off 
an'  commit  suicide  that  way."  He  looked  over  the 
remainder  of  the  team  with  a   speculative  eye  that 


14  WHITE   FANG 

summed  up  instantly  the  salient  traits  of  each  animal. 
"  I  bet  none  of  the  others  would  do  it." 

"  Couldn't  drive  'em  away  from  the  fire  with  a 
club,"  Bill  agreed.  "  I  always  did  think  there  was 
somethin'  wrong  with  Fatty,  anyway." 

And  this  was  the  epitaph  of  a  dead  dog  on  the 
Northland  trail  —  less  scant  than  the  epitaph  of  many 
another  dog,  of  many  a  man. 


CHAPTER   II 


THE    SHE-WOLF 


Breakfast  eaten  and  the  slim  camp-outfit  lashed 
to  the  sled,  the  men  turned  their  backs  on  the  cheery 
fire  and  launched  out  into  the  darkness.  At  once 
began  to  rise  the  cries  that  were  fiercely  sad  —  cries 
that  called  through  the  darkness  and  cold  to  one 
another  and  answered  back.  Conversation  ceased. 
Daylight  came  at  nine  o'clock.  At  midday  the 
sky  to  the  south  warmed  to  rose-color,  and  marked 
where  the  bulge  of  the  earth  intervened  between  the 
meridian  sun  and  the  northern  world.  But  the  rose- 
color  swiftly  faded.  The  gray  light  of  day  that 
remained  lasted  until  three  o'clock,  when  it,  too, 
faded,  and  the  pall  of  the  Arctic  night  descended 
upon  the  lone  and  sil,ent  land. 

As  darkness  came  on,  the  hunting-cries  to  right 
and  left  and  rear  drew  closer  —  so  close  that  more 
than  once  they  sent  surges  of  fear  through  the  toiling 
dogs,  throwing  them  into  short-lived  panics. 

At  the  conclusion  of  one  such  panic,  when  he  and 
Henry  had  got  the  dogs  back  in  the  traces,  Bill  said : 

15 


16  WHITE   FANG 

"  I  wisht  they'd  strike  game  somewheres,  an'  go 
away  an'  leave  us  alone." 

"  They  do  get  on  the  nerves  horrible,"  Henry  sym- 
pathized. 

They  spoke  no  more  until  camp  was  made. 

Henry  w^as  bending  over  and  adding  ice  to  the 
bubbling  pot  of  beans  when  he  was  startled  by  the 
sound  of  a  blow,  an  exclamation  from  Bill,  and  a 
sharp  snarling  cry  of  pain  from  among  the  dogs.  He 
straightened  up  in  time  to  see  a  dim  form  disappear- 
ing across  the  snow  into  the  shelter  of  the  dark. 
Then  he  saw  Bill,  standing  amid  the  dogs,  half  tri- 
umphant, half  crest-fallen,  in  one  hand  a  stout  club, 
in  the  other  the  tail  and  part  of  the  body  of  a  sun- 
cured  salmon. 

"  It  got  half  of  it,"  he  announced  ;  "  but  I  got  a 
whack  at  it  jes'  the  same.     D'ye  hear  it  squeal  ? " 

"  What'd  it  look  like  ?  "  Henry  asked. 

"  Couldn't  see.  But  it  had  four  legs  an'  a  mouth 
an'  hair  an'  looked  like  any  dog." 

"  Must  be  a  tame  wolf,  I  reckon." 

"  It's  damned  tame,  whatever  it  is,  comin'  in  here 
at  feedin'  time  an'  gettin'  its  whack  of  fish." 

That  night,  when  supper  was  finished  and  they 
sat  on  the  oblong  box  and  pulled  at  their  pipes,  the 
circle  of  gleaming  eyes  drew  in  even  closer  than 
before. 

"  I  wisht  they'd  spring  up  a  bunch  of  moose  or 


THE   SHE-WOLF  17 

somethin',  an'  go  away  an'  leave  us  alone,"  Bill 
said. 

Henry  grunted  with  an  intonation  that  was  not 
all  sympathy,  and  for  a  quarter  of  an  hour  they  sat 
on  in  silence,  Henry  staring  at  the  fire,  and  Bill  at 
the  circle  of  eyes  that  burned  in  the  darkness  just 
beyond  the  firelight. 

"  I  wisht  we  was  pullin'  into  McGurry  right  now,'^ 
he  began  again. 

«  Shut  up  your  wishin'  an'  your  croakin',"  Henry 
burst  out  angrily.  "  Your  stomach's  sour.  That's 
what's  ailin'  you.  Swallow  a  spoonful  of  sody,  an' 
you'll  sweeten  up  wonderful  an'  be  more  pleasant 
company." 

In  the  morning,  Henry  was  aroused  by  fervid  blas- 
phemy that  proceeded  from  the  mouth  of  Bill. 
Henry  propped  himself  up  on  an  elbow  and  looked 
to  see  his  comrade  standing  among  the  dogs  beside 
the  replenished  fire,  his  arms  raised  in  objurgation,  his 
face  distorted  with  passion. 

"  Hello  !  "  Henry  called.     "  What's  up  now  ?  " 

"  Frog's  gone,"  came  the  answer. 

"  No." 

"  I  tell  you  yes." 

Henry  leaped  out  of  the  blankets  and  to  the  dogs. 
He  counted  them  with  care,  and  then  joined  his 
partner  in  cursing  the  powers  of  the  Wild  that  had 
robbed  them  of  another  dog. 


18  WHITE   FANG 

"  Frog  was  the  strongest  dog  of  the  bunch,"  Bill 
pronounced  finally. 

"  An'  he  was  no  fool  dog  neither,"  Henry  added. 

And  so  was  recorded  the  second  epitaph  in'  two 
days. 

A  gloomy  breakfast  was  eaten,  and  the  four  re- 
maining dogs  were  harnessed  to  the  sled.  The  day 
was  a  repetition  of  the  days  that  had  gone  before. 
The  men  toiled  without  speech  across  the  face  of  the 
frozen  world.  The  silence  was  unbroken  save  by  the 
cries  of  their  pursuers,  that,  unseen,  hung  upon  their 
rear.  With  the  coming  of  night  in  the  mid-after- 
noon, the  cries  sounded  closer  as  the  pursuers  drew 
in  according  to  their  custom ;  and  the  dogs  grew 
excited  and  frightened,  and  were  guilty  of  panics  that 
tangled  the  traces  and  further  depressed  the  two 
men. 

"  There,  that'll  fix  you  fool  critters,"  Bill  said  with 
satisfaction  that  night,  standing  erect  at  completion 
of  his  task. 

Henry  left  his  cooking  to  come  and  see.  Not  only 
had  his  partner  tied  the  dogs  up,  but  he  had  tied 
them,  after  the  Indian  fashion,  with  sticks.  About 
the  neck  of  each  dog  he  had  fastened  a  leather  thong. 
To  this,  and  so  close  to  the  neck  that  the  dog  could 
not  get  his  teeth  to  it,  he  had  tied  a  stout  stick  four 
or  five  feet  in  length.  The  other  end  of  the  stick,  in 
turn,    was    made    fast    to  a  stake  in  the  ground  by 


THE   SHE-WOLF  19 

means  of  a  leather  thong.  The  dog  was  unable  to 
gnaw  through  the  leather  at  his  own  end  of  the  stick. 
The  stick  prevented  him  from  getting  at  the  leather 
that  fastened  the  other  end. 

Henry  nodded  his  head  approvingly. 

"  It's  the  only  contraption  that'll  ever  hold  One 
Ear,"  he  said.  "  He  can  gnaw  through  leather  as 
clean  as  a  knife  an'  jes'  about  half  as  quick.  They 
all  '11  be  here  in  the  mornin'  hunkydory." 

"  You  jes'  bet  they  will,"  Bill  affirmed.  "  If  one 
of  'em  turns  up  missin',  I'll  go  without  my  coffee." 

"They  jes'  know  we  ain't  loaded  to  kill,"  Henry 
remarked  at  bed-time,  indicating  the  gleaming  circle 
that  hemmed  them  in.  "  If  we  could  put  a  couple  of 
shots  into  'em,  they'd  be  more  respectful.  They  come 
closer  every  night.  Get  the  firelight  out  of  your 
eyes  an'  look  hard  —  there  !     Did  you  see  that  one  ?  " 

For  some  time  the  two  men  amused  themselves 
with  watching  the  movement  of  vague  forms  on  the 
edge  of  the  firelight.  By  looking  closely  and  steadily 
at  where  a  pair  of  eyes  burned  in  the  darkness,  the 
form  of  the  animal  would  slowly  take  shape.  They 
could  even  see  these  forms  move  at  times. 

A  sound  among  the  dogs  attracted  the  men's  atten- 
tion. One  Ear  was  uttering  quick,  eager  whines, 
lunging  at  the  length  of  his  stick  toward  the  dark- 
ness, and  desisting  now  and  again  in  order  to  make 
frantic  attacks  on  the  stick  with  his  teeth. 


20  WHITE   FANG 

"  Look  at  that,  Bill,"  Henry  whispered. 

Full  into  the  firelight,  with  a  stealthy,  sidelong 
movement,  glided  a  doglike  animal.  It  moved  with 
commingled  mistrust  and  daring,  cautiously  observ- 
ing the  men,  its  attention  fixed  on  the  dogs.  One 
Ear  strained  the  full  length  of  the  stick  toward  the 
intruder  and  whined  with  eagerness. 

"That  fool  One  Ear  don't  seem  scairt  much,"  Bill 
said  in  a  low  tone. 

"  It's  a  she-wolf,"  Henry  whispered  back,  "  an'  that 
accounts  for  Fatty  an'  Frog.  She's  the  decoy  for  the 
pack.  She  draws  out  the  dog  an'  then  all  the  rest 
pitches  in  an'  eats  'm  up." 

The  fire  crackled.  A  log  fell  apart  with  a  loud 
spluttering  noise.  At  the  sound  of  it  the  strange 
animal  leaped  back  into  the  darkness. 

"  Henry,  I'm  a-thinkin',"  Bill  announced. 

"  Thinkin'  what  ?  " 

"  I'm  a-thinkin'  that  was  the  one  I  lambasted  with 
the  club." 

"  Ain't  the  slightest  doubt  in  the  world,"  w^as 
Henry's  response. 

"  An'  right  here  I  want  to  remark,"  Bill  went  on, 
"  that  that  animal's  familyarity  with  campfires  is 
suspicious  an'  immoral." 

"  It  knows  for  certain  more'n  a  self-respectin'  wolf 
ought  to  know,"  Henry  agreed.  "  A  wolf  that  knows 
enough  to  come  in  with  the  dogs  at  feedin'  time  has 
had  experiences." 


THE   SHE-WOLF  21 

"OP  Villan  had  a  dog  once  that  run  away  with 
the  wolves,"  Bill  cogitated  aloud.  "  I  ought  to  know. 
I  shot  it  out  of  the  pack  in  a  moose  pasture  over  on 
Little  Stick.  An'  OP  Villan  cried  like  a  baby. 
Hadn't  seen  it  for  three  years,  he  said.  Ben  with 
the  wolves  all  that  time." 

"  I  reckon  3^ou've  called  the  turn,  Bill.  That 
wolf's  a  dog,  an'  it's  eaten  fish  many's  the  time 
from  the  hand  of  man." 

"  An'  if  I  get  a  chance  at  it,  that  wolf  that's  a 
dog'll  be  jes'  meat,"  Bill  declared.  "We  can't  afford 
to  lose  no  more  animals." 

"  But  you've  only  got  three  cartridges,"  Henry 
objected. 

"  I'll  wait  for  a  dead  sure  shot,"  was  the  reply. 

In  the  morning  Henry  renewed  the  fire  and  cooked 
breakfast  to  the  accompaniment  of  his  partner's 
snoring. 

"  You  was  sleepin'  jes'  too  comfortable  for  any- 
thin',"  Henry  told  him,  as  he  routed  him  out  for 
breakfast.     "  I  hadn't  the  heart  to  rouse  you." 

Bill  began  to  eat  sleepily.  He  noticed  that  his  cup 
was  empty  and  started  to  reach  for  the  pot.  But 
the  pot  was  beyond  arm's  length  and  beside  Henry. 

"  Say,  Henry,"  he  chided  gently,  "  ain't  you  for- 
got somethin'  ?  " 

Henry  looked  about  with  great  carefulness  and 
shook  his  head.     Bill  held  up  the  empty  cup. 


22  WHITE   FANG 

"  You  don't  get  no  coffee,"  Henry  announced. 

"  Ain't  run  out  ?  "  Bill  asked  anxiously. 

"  Nope." 

"  Ain't  thinkin'  it'll  hurt  my  digestion  ?  " 

"  Nope." 

A  flush  of  angry  blood  pervaded  Bill's  face. 

''  Then  it's  jes'  warm  an'  anxious  I  am  to  be 
hearin'  you  explain  yourself,"  he  said. 

"  Spanker's  gone,"  Henry  answered. 

Without  haste,  with  the  air  of  one  resigned  to  mis- 
fortune, Bill  turned  his  head,  and  from  where  he 
sat  counted  the  dogs. 

"  How'd  it  happen  ?  "  he  asked  apathetically. 

Henry  shrugged  his  shoulders.  "  Don't  know. 
Unless  One  Ear  gnawed  'm  loose.  He  couldn't 
a-done  it  himself,  that's  sure." 

"  The  darned  cuss."  Bill  spoke  gravely  and  slowly, 
with  no  hint  of  the  anger  that  was  raging  within. 
"Jes'  because  he  couldn't  chew  himself  loose,  he 
chews  Spanker  loose." 

"  Well,  Spanker's  troubles  is  over,  anyway  ;  I  guess 
he's  digested  by  this  time  an'  cavortin'  over  the 
landscape  in  the  bellies  of  twenty  difl'erent  wolves," 
was  Henry's  epitaph  on  this,  the  latest  lost  dog. 
"Have  some  coffee,  Bill." 

But  Bill  shook  his  head. 

"  Go  on,"  Henry  pleaded,  elevating  the  pot. 

Bill    shoved    his    cup    aside.      "  I'll    be    ding-dong- 


THE   SHE-WOLF  23 

danged  if  I  do.  I  said  I  wouldn't  if  ary  dog  turned 
up  missin',  an'  I  won't." 

"  It's  darn  good  coffee,"  Henry  said  enticingly. 

But  Bill  was  stubborn,  and  he  ate  a  dry  breakfast, 
washed  down  with  mumbled  curses  at  One  Ear  for 
the  trick  he  had  played. 

"  I'll  tie  'em  up  out  of  reach  of  each  other  to- 
night," Bill  said,  as  they  took  the  trail. 

They  had  travelled  little  more  than  a  hundred 
yards,  when  Henry,  who  was  in  front,  bent  down  and 
picked  up  something  with  which  his  snowshoe  had 
collided.  It  was  dark,  and  he  could  not  see  it,  but 
he  recognized  it  by  the  touch.  He  flung  it  back,  so 
that  it  struck  the  sled  and  bounced  along  until  it 
fetched  up  on  Bill's  snowshoes. 

"  Mebbe  you'll  need  that  in  your  business,"  Henry 
said. 

Bill  uttered  an  exclamation.  It  was  all  that  was 
left  of  Spanker  —  the  stick  with  which  he  had  been 
tied. 

"  They  ate  'm  hide  an'  all,"  Bill  announced.  "  The 
stick's  as  clean  as  a  whistle.  They've  ate  the  leather 
oifen  both  ends.  They're  damn  hungry,  Henry,  an' 
they'll  have  you  an'  me  guessin'  before  this  trip's 
over." 

Henry  laughed  defiantly.  "  I  ain't  been  trailed 
this  way  by  wolves  before,  but  I've  gone  through  a 
whole  lot  worse  an'  kept  my  health.     Takes  more'n 


24  WHITE   FANG 

a  handful  of  them  pesky  critters  to  do  for  yours 
truly,  Bill,  my  son." 

"  I  don't  know,  I  don't  know,"  Bill  muttered 
ominously. 

"  Well,  you'll  know  all  right  when  we  pull  into 
McGurry." 

"  I  ain't  feelin'  special  enthusiastic,"  Bill  persisted. 

"  You're  off  color,  that's  what's  the  matter  with 
you,"  Henry  dogmatized.  "  What  you  need  is 
quinine,  an'  I'm  goin'  to  dose  you  up  stiff  as  soon 
as  we  make  McGurry." 

Bill  grunted  his  disagreement  with  the  diagnosis, 
and  lapsed  into  silence.  The  day  was  like  all  the 
days.  Light  came  at  nine  o'clock.  At  twelve  o'clock 
the  southern  horizon  was  warmed  by  the  unseen  sun  ; 
and  then  began  the  cold  gray  of  afternoon  that  would 
merge,  three  hours  later,  into  night. 

It  was  just  after  the  sun's  futile  effort  to  appear, 
that  Bill  slipped  the  rifle  from  under  the  sled-lashings 
and  said  : 

«  You  keep  right  on,  Henry,  I'm  goin'  to  see  what 
I  can  see." 

"You'd  better  stick  by  the  sled,"  his  partner  pro- 
tested. "  You've  only  got  three  cartridges,  an'  there's 
no  tellin'  what  might  happen." 

"  Who's  croakin'  now  ? "  Bill  demanded  trium- 
phantly. 

Henry  made  no  reply,  and  plodded  on  alone,  though 


THE   SHE-WOLF  25 

often  he  cast  anxious  glances  back  into  the  gray  soli- 
tude where  his  partner  had  disappeared.  An  hour 
later,  taking  advantage  of  the  cut-offs  around  which 
the  sled  had  to  go,  Bill  arrived. 

"  They're  scattered  an'  rangin'  along  wide,"  he  said ; 
"  keepin'  up  with  us  an'  lookin'  for  game  at  the  same 
time.  You  see,  they're  sure  of  us,  only  they  know 
they've  got  to  wait  to  get  us.  In  the  meantime 
they're  willin'  to  pick  up  anythin'  eatable  that  comes 
handy." 

"  You  mean  they  thinh  they're  sure  of  us,"  Henry 
objected  pointedly. 

But  Bill  ignored  him.  "  I  seen  some  of  them. 
They're  pretty  thin.  They  ain't  had  a  bite  in  weeks, 
I  reckon,  outside  of  Fatty  an'  Frog  an'  Spanker ;  an' 
there's  so  many  of  'em  that  that  didn't  go  far. 
They're  remarkable  thin.  Their  ribs  is  like  wash- 
boards, an'  their  stomachs  is  right  up  against  their 
backbones.  They're  pretty  desperate,  I  can  tell  you. 
They'll  be  goin'  mad,  yet,  an'  then  watch  out." 

A  few  minutes  later,  Henry,  who  was  now  travel- 
liug  behind  the  sled,  emitted  a  low,  warning  whistle. 
Bill  turned  and  looked,  then  quietly  stopped  the  dogs. 
To  the  rear,  from  around  the  last  bend  and  plainly 
into  view,  on  the  very  trail  they  had  just  covered, 
trotted  a  furry,  slinking  form.  Its  nose  was  to  the 
trail,  and  it  trotted  with  a  peculiar,  sliding,  effortless 
gait.     When  they  halted,  it  halted,  throwing  up  its 


26  WHITE   FANG 

head  and  regarding  them  steadily  with  nostrils  that 
twitched  as  it  caught  and  studied  the  scent  of  them. 

"  It's  the  she-wolf,"  Bill  whispered. 

The  dogs  had  lain  down  in  the  snow,  and  he  walked 
past  them  to  join  his  partner  at  the  sled.  Together 
they  watched  the  strange  animal  that  had  pursued 
them  for  days  and  that  had  already  accomplished  the 
destruction  of  half  their  dog-team. 

After  a  searching  scrutiny,  the  animal  trotted  for- 
ward a  few  steps.  This  it  repeated  several  times,  till 
it  was  a  short  hundred  yards  away.  It  paused,  head 
up,  close  by  a  clump  of  spruce  trees,  and  with  sight 
and  scent  studied  the  outfit  of  the  watching  men.  It 
looked  at  them  in  a  strangely  wistful  way,  after  the 
manner  of  a  dog ;  but  in  its  wistfulness  there  was 
none  of  the  dog  affection.  It  was  a  wistfulness  bred 
of  hunger,  as  cruel  as  its  own  fangs,  as  merciless  as 
the  frost  itself. 

It  was  large  for  a  wolf,  its  gaunt  frame  advertising 
the  lines  of  an  animal  that  was  among  the  largest  of 
its  kind. 

"  Stands  pretty  close  to  two  feet  an'  a  half  at  the 
shoulders,"  Henry  commented.  "  An'  I'll  bet  it  ain't 
far  from  five  feet  long." 

"Kind  of  strange  color  for  a  wolf,"  was  Bill's 
criticism.  "  I  never  seen  a  red  wolf  before.  Looks 
almost  cinnamon  to  me." 

The    animal  was  certainly  not    cinnamon-colored. 


THE   SHE-WOLF  27 

Its  coat  was  the  true  wolf-coat.  The  dominant  color 
was  gray,  and  yet  there  was  to  it  a  faint  reddish  hue 
—  a  hue  that  was  baffling,  that  appeared  and  disap- 
peared, that  was  more  like  an  illusion  of  the  vision, 
now  gray,  distinctly  gray,  and  again  giving  hints  and 
glints  of  a  vague  redness  of  color  not  classifiable  in 
terms  of  ordinary  experience. 

"  Looks  for  all  the  world  like  a  big  husky  sled-dog," 
Bill  said.  ''  I  wouldn't  be  s'prised  to  see  it  wag  its 
tail. 

"  Hello,  you  husky  ! "  he  called.  "  Come  here,  you, 
whatever-your-name-is." 

"  Ain't  a  bit  scairt  of  you,"  Henry  laughed. 

Bill  waved  his  hand  at  it  threateningly  and  shouted 
loudly ;  but  the  animal  betrayed  no  fear.  The  only 
change  in  it  that  they  could  notice  was  an  accession 
of  alertness.  It  still  regarded  them  with  the  merci- 
less wistfulness  of  hunger.  They  were  meat,  and  it 
was  hungry ;  and  it  would  like  to  go  in  and  eat  them 
if  it  dared. 

"  Look  here,  Henry,"  Bill  said,  unconsciously  lower- 
ing his  voice  to  a  whisper  because  of  what  he  medi- 
tated. ''We've  got  three  cartridges.  But  it's  a  dead 
shot.  Couldn't  miss  it.  It's  got  away  with  three  of 
our  dogs,  an'  we  oughter  put  a  stop  to  it.  What  d'ye 
say  ?  " 

Henry  nodded  his  consent.  Bill  cautiously  slipped 
the  gun  from  under  the  sled-lashing.     The  gun  was 


28  WHITE   FANG 

on  the  way  to  his  shoulder,  but  it  never  got  there. 
For  in  that  instant  the  she-wolf  leaped  sidewise  from 
the  trail  into  the  clump  of  spruce  trees  and  dis- 
appeared. 

The  two  men  looked  at  each  other.  Henry  whistled 
long  and  comprehendingly. 

"  I  might  have  knowed  it,"  Bill  chided  himself 
aloud,  as  he  replaced  the  gun.  "  Of  course  a  wolf 
that  knows  enough  to  come  in  with  the  dogs 
at  feedin'  time,  'd  know  all  about  shooting-irons. 
I  tell  you  right  now,  Henry,  that  critter's  the  cause  of 
all  our  trouble.  We'd  have  six  dogs  at  the  present 
time,  'stead  of  three,  if  it  wasn't  for  her.  An'  I  tell 
you  right  now,  Henry,  I'm  goin'  to  get  her.  She's 
too  smart  to  be  shot  in  the  open.  But  I'm  goin'  to 
lay  for  her.  I'll  bushwhack  her  as  sure  as  my  name 
is  Bill." 

"  You  needn't  stray  off  too  far  in  doin'  it,"  his 
partner  admonished.  "  If  that  pack  ever  starts  to 
jump  you,  them  three  cartridges  'd  be  wuth  no  more'n 
three  whoops  in  hell.  Them  animals  is  damn  hungry, 
an'  once  they  start  in,  they'll  sure  get  you,  Bill." 

They  camped  early  that  night.  Three  dogs  could 
not  drag  the  sled  so  fast  nor  for  so  long  hours  as 
could  six,  and  they  were  showing  unmistakable  signs 
of  playing  out.  And  the  men  went  early  to  bed. 
Bill  first  seeing  to  it  that  the  dogs  were  tied  out  of 
gnawing-reach  of  one  another. 


THE  SHE-WOLF  29 

But  the  wolves  were  growing  bolder,  and  the  men 
were  aroused  more  than  once  from  their  sleep.  So 
near  did  the  wolves  approach,  that  the  dogs  became 
frantic  with  terror,  and  it  was  necessary  to  replenish 
the  fire  from  time  to  time  in  order  to  keep  the  adven- 
turous marauders  at  safer  distance. 

"  I've  hearn  sailors  talk  of  sharks  followin'  a  ship," 
Bill  remarked,  as  he  crawled  back  into  the  blankets 
after  one  such  replenishing  of  the  fire.  "  Well,  them 
wolves  is  land  sharks.  They  know  their  business 
better'n  we  do,  an'  they  ain't  a-holdin'  our  trail  this 
w^ay  for  their  health.  They're  goin'  to  get  us. 
They're  sure  goin'  to  get  us,  Henry." 

"  They've  half  got  you  a'ready,  a-talkin'  like  that," 
Henry  retorted  sharpl}^  "  A  man's  half  licked  when 
he  says  he  is.  An'  you're  half  eaten  from  the  way 
you're  goin'  on  about  it." 

"  They've  got  away  with  better  men  than  you  an' 
me,"  Bill  answered. 

"  Oh,  shet  up  your  croakin'.  You  make  me  all- 
fired  tired." 

Henry  rolled  over  angrily  on  his  side,  but  was 
surprised  that  Bill  made  no  similar  display  of  temper. 
This  was  not  Bill's  way,  for  he  was  easily  angered 
by  sharp  words.  Henry  thought  long  over  it  before 
he  went  to  sleep,  and  as  his  eyelids  fluttered  down 
and  he  dozed  off,  the  thought  in  his  mind  was : 
"There's  no  mistakin'  it.  Bill's  almighty  blue.  I'll 
have  to  cheer  him  up  to-morrow." 


CHAPTER    III 


THE    HUNGER    CEY 


The  day  began  auspiciously.  They  had  lost  no 
dogs  during  the  night,  and  they  swung  out  upon  the 
trail  and  into  the  silence,  the  darkness,  and  the  cold 
with  spirits  that  were  fairly  light.  Bill  seemed  to 
have  forgotten  his  forebodings  of  the  previous  night, 
and  even  waxed  facetious  with  the  dogs  when,  at 
midday,  they  overturned  the  sled  on  a  bad  piece  of 
trail. 

It  was  an  awkward  mix-up.  The  sled  was  upside 
down  and  jammed  between  a  tree-trunk  and  a  huge 
rock,  and  they  were  forced  to  unharness  the  dogs  in 
order  to  straighten  out  the  tangle.  The  two  men 
were  bent  over  the  sled  and  trying  to  right  it,  when 
Henry  observed  One  Ear  sidling  awa}^ 

"Here,  you,  One  Ear!"  he  cried,  straightening  up 
and  turning  around  on  the  dog. 

But  One  Ear  broke  into  a  run  across  the  snow,  his 
traces  trailing  behind  him.  And  there,  out  in  the 
snow  of  their  back-track,  was  the  she-wolf  waiting 
for    him.     As    he    neared    her,  he    became    suddenly 

30 


THE   HUNGER   CRY  31 

cautious.  He  slowed  down  to  an  alert  and  mincing 
walk  and  then  stopped.  He  regarded  her  carefully 
and  dubiously,  yet  desirefully.  She  seemed  to  smile 
at  him,  showing  her  teeth  in  an  ingratiating  rather 
than  a  menacing  way.  She  moved  toward  him  a 
few  steps,  playfully,  and  then  halted.  One  Ear  drew 
near  to  her,  still  alert  and  cautious,  his  tail  and  ears 
in  the  air,  his  head  held  high. 

He  tried  to  sniff  noses  with  her,  but  she  retreated 
playfully  and  coyly.  Every  advance  on  his  part  was 
accompanied  by  a  corresponding  retreat  on  her  part. 
Step  by  step  she  w^as  luring  him  away  from  the 
security  of  his  human  companionship.  Once,  as 
though  a  warning  had  in  vague  ways  flitted  through 
his  intelligence,  he  turned  his  head  and  looked  back 
at  the  overturned  sled,  at  his  team-mates,  and  at  the 
two  men  who  were  calling  to  him. 

But  whatever  idea  was  forming  in  his  mind,  was 
dissipated  by  the  she-wolf,  who  advanced  upon  him, 
sniffed  noses  with  him  for  a  fleeting  instant,  and  then 
resumed  her  coy  retreat  before  his  renewed  advances. 

In  the  meantime.  Bill  had  bethought  himself  of 
the  rifle.  But  it  was  jammed  beneath  the  overturned 
sled,  and  by  the  time  Henry  had  helped  him  to  right 
the  load.  One  Ear  and  the  she-wolf  were  too  close 
together  and  the  distance  too  great  to  risk  a  shot. 

Too  late.  One  Ear  learned  his  mistake.  Before  they 
saw  the  cause,  the  two  men  saw  him  turn  and  start 


32  WHITE    FANG' 

to  run  back  toward  them.  Then,  approaching  at 
right  angles  to  the  trail  and  cutting  off  his  retreat, 
they  saw  a  dozen  wolves,  lean  and  gray,  bounding 
across  the  snow.  On  the  instant,  the  she-wolf's  coy- 
ness and  playfulness  disappeared.  With  a  snarl  she 
sprang  upon  One  Ear.  He  thrust  her  off  with  his 
shoulder,  and,  his  retreat  cut  off  and  still  intent  on 
regaining  the  sled,  he  altered  his  course  in  an  attempt 
to  circle  around  to  it.  More  wolves  were  appearing 
every  moment  and  joining  in  the  chase.  The  she- 
wolf  was  one  leap  behind  One  Ear  and  holding  her 
own. 

"  Where  are  you  goin'  ?  "  Henry  suddenly  demanded, 
laying  his  hand  on  his  partner's  arm. 

Bill  shook  it  off.  "  I  won't  stand  it,"  he  said. 
"  They  ain't  a-goin'  to  get  any  more  of  our  dogs  if  I 
can  help  it." 

Gun  in  hand,  he  plunged  into  the  underbrush  that 
lined  the  side  of  the  trail.  His  intention  was  appar- 
ent enough.  Taking  the  sled  as  the  centre  of  the 
circle  that  One  Ear  was  making,  Bill  planned  to  tap 
that  circle  at  a  point  in  advance  of  the  pursuit. 
With  his  rifle,  in  the  broad  daylight,  it  might  be  pos- 
sible for  him  to  awe  the  wolves  and  save  the  dog. 

"  Say,  Bill !  "  Henry  called  after  him.  "  Be  care- 
ful !     Don't  take  no  chances  !  " 

Henry  sat  down  on  the  sled  and  watched.  There 
was  nothing  else  for  him  to  do.      Bill  had  already 


THE   HUNGER     GRY  33 

gone  from  sight;  but  now  and  again,  appearing  and 
disappearing  amongst  the  underbrush  and  the  scat- 
tered clumps  of  spruce,  could  be  seen  One  Ear. 
Henry  judged  his  case  to  be  hopeless.  The  dog  was 
thoroughly  alive  to  its  danger,  but  it  was  running  on 
the  outer  circle  while  the  wolf-pack  was  running  on 
the  inner  and  shorter  circle.  It  was  vain  to  think  of 
One  Ear  so  outdistancing  his  pursuers  as  to  be  able 
to  cut  across  their  circle  in  advance  of  them  and  to 
regain  the  sled. 

The  different  lines  were  rapidly  approaching  a 
point.  Somewhere  out  there  in  the  snow,  screened 
from  his  sight  by  trees  and  thickets,  Henry  knew  that 
the  wolf-pack,  One  Ear,  and  Bill  were  coming  to- 
gether. All  too  quickly,  far  more  quickly  than  he 
had  expected,  it  happened.  He  heard  a  shot,  then 
two  shots  in  rapid  succession,  and  he  knew  that  Bill's 
ammunition  was  gone.  Then  he  heard  a  great  out- 
cry of  snarls  and  yelps.  He  recognized  One  Ear's 
yell  of  pain  and  terror,  and  he  heard  a  wolf-cry  that 
bespoke  a  stricken  animal.  And  that  was  all.  The 
snarls  ceased.  The  yelping  died  away.  Silence  set- 
tled down  again  over  the  lonely  land. 

He  sat  for  a  long  while  upon  the  sled.  There  was 
no  need  for  him  to  go  and  see  what  had  happened. 
He  knew  it  as  though  it  had  taken  place  before  his 
eyes.  Once,  he  roused  with  a  start  and  hastily  got 
the  axe  out  from  underneath  the  lashings.     But  for 


34  WHITE   FANG 

some  time  longer  he  sat  and  brooded,  the  two  remain- 
ing dogs  crouching  and  trembling  at  his  feet. 

At  last  he  arose  in  a  weary  manner,  as  though  all  the 
resilience  had  gone  out  of  his  body,  and  proceeded  to 
fasten  the  dogs  to  the  sled.  He  passed  a  rope  over  his 
shoulder,  a  man-trace,  and  pulled  with  the  dogs.  He 
did  not  go  far.  At  the  first  hint  of  darkness  he  hastened 
to  make  a  camp,  and  he  saw  to  it  that  he  had  a  gen- 
erous supply  of  firewood.  He  fed  the  dogs,  cooked 
and  ate  his  supper,  and  made  his  bed  close  to  the  fire. 

But  he  was  not  destined  to  enjoy  that  bed.  Before 
his  eyes  closed  the  wolves  had  drawn  too  near  for 
safety.  It  no  longer  required  an  effort  of  the  vision 
to  see  them.  They  were  all  about  him  and  the  fire, 
in  a  narrow  circle,  and  he  could  see  them  plainly  in 
the  firelight,  lying  down,  sitting  up,  crawling  for- 
ward on  their  bellies,  or  slinking  back  and  forth. 
They  even  slept.  Here  and  there  he  could  see  one 
curled  up  in  the  snow  like  a  dog,  taking  the  sleep 
that  was  now  denied  himself. 

He  kept  the  fire  brightly  blazing,  for  he  knew  that 
it  alone  intervened  between  the  flesh  of  his  body  and 
their  hungry  fangs.  His  two  dogs  stayed  close  by 
him,  one  on  either  side,  leaning  against  him  for  pro- 
tection, crying  and  whimpering,  and  at  times  snarl- 
ing desperately  when  a  wolf  approached  a  little  closer 
than  usual.  At  such  moments,  when  his  dogs  snarled, 
the  whole  circle  would  be  agitated,  the  wolves  com- 


THE   HUNGER   CRY  35 

ing  to  their  feet  and  pressing  tentatively  forward,  a 
chorus  of  snarls  and  eager  yelps  rising  about  him. 
Then  the  circle  would  lie  down  again,  and  here  and 
there  a  wolf  would  resume  its  broken  nap. 

But  this  circle  had  a  continuous  tendency  to  draw  in 
upon  him.  Bit  by  bit,  an  inch  at  a  time,  with  here  a 
wolf  bellying  forward,  and  there  a  wolf  bellying  for- 
ward, the  circle  would  narrow  until  the  brutes  were 
almost  within  springing  distance.  Then  he  would 
seize  brands  from  the  lire  and  hurl  them  into  the  pack. 
A  hasty  drawing  back  always  resulted,  accompanied 
by  angry  yelps  and  frightened  snarls  when  a  well- 
aimed  brand  struck  and  scorched  a  too  daring  animal. 

Morning  found  the  man  haggard  and  worn,  wide- 
eyed  from  want  of  sleep.  He  cooked  breakfast  in  the 
darkness,  and  at  nine  o'clock,  when,  w4th  the  coming 
of  daylight,  the  wolf-pack  drew  back,  he  set  about 
the  task  he  had  planned  through  the  long  hours  of 
the  night.  Chopping  down  young  saplings,  he  made 
them  cross-bars  of  a  scaffold  by  lashing  them  high  up 
to  the  trunks  of  standing  trees.  Using  the  sled- 
lashing  for  a  heaving  rope,  and  with  the  aid  of  the 
dogs,  he  hoisted  the  coffin  to  the  top  of  the  scaffold. 

"  They  got  Bill,  an'  they  may  get  me,  but  they'll 
sure  never  get  you,  young  man,"  he  said,  addressing 
the  dead  body  in  its  tree-sepulchre. 

Then  he  took  the  trail,  the  lightened  sled  bounding 
along  behind  the  willing  dogs ;  for  they,   too,  knew 


36  WHITE   FANG 

that  safety  lay  only  in  the  gaining  of  Fort  McGurry. 
The  wolves  were  now  more  open  in  their  pursuit, 
trotting  sedately  behind  and  ranging  along  on  either 
side,  their  red  tongues  lolling  out,  their  lean  sides 
showing  the  undulating  ribs  with  every  movement. 
They  were  very  lean,  mere  skin-bags  stretched  over 
bony  frames,  with  strings  for  muscles  —  so  lean  that 
Henry  found  it  in  his  mind  to  marvel  that  they  still 
kept  their  feet  and  did  not  collapse  forthright  in  the 
snow. 

He  did  not  dare  travel  until  dark.  At  midday, 
not  only  did  the  sun  warm  the  southern  horizon,  but 
it  even  thrust  its  upper  rim,  pale  and  golden,  above 
the  sky-line.  He  received  it  as  a  sign.  The  days 
were  growing  longer.  The  sun  was  returning.  But 
scarcely  had  the  cheer  of  its  light  departed,  than  he 
went  into  camp.  There  were  still  several  hours  of 
gray  daylight  and  sombre  twilight,  and  he  utilized 
them  in  chopping  an  enormous  supply  of  firewood. 

With  night  came  horror.  Not  only  were  the  starv- 
ing wolves  growing  bolder,  but  lack  of  sleep  was 
telling  upon  Henry.  He  dozed  despite  himself, 
crouching  by  the  fire,  the  blankets  about  his  shoulders, 
the  axe  between  his  knees,  and  on  either  side  a  dog 
pressing  close  against  him.  He  awoke  once  and  saw 
in  front  of  him,  not  a  dozen  feet  away,  a  big  gray 
wolf,  one  of  the  largest  of  the  pack.  And  even  as  he 
looked,  the  brute  deliberately  stretched  himself  after 


THE   HUNGER   CRY  37 

the  manner  of  a  lazy  dog,  yawning  full  in  his  face  and 
looking  upon  him  with  a  possessive  eye,  as  if,  in  truth, 
he  were  merely  a  delayed  meal  that  was  soon  to  be 
eaten. 

This  certitude  was  shown  by  the  whole  pack. 
Fully  a  score  he  could  count,  staring  hungrily  at  him 
or  calmly  sleeping  in  the  snow.  They  reminded  him 
of  children  gathered  about  a  spread  table  and  await- 
ing permission  to  begin  to  eat.  And  he  was  the  food 
they  were  to  eat !  He  wondered  how  and  when  the 
meal  would  begin. 

As  he  piled  wood  on  the  fire  he  discovered  an  ap- 
preciation of  his  own  body  which  he  had  never  felt 
before.  He  watched  his  moving  muscles  and  was 
interested  in  the  cunning  mechanism  of  his  fingers. 
By  the  light  of  the  fire  he  crooked  his  fingers  slowly 
and  repeatedly,  now  one  at  a  time,  now  all  together, 
spreading  them  wide  or  making  quick  gripping  move- 
ments. He  studied  the  nail-formation,  and  prodded 
the  finger-tips,  now  sharply,  and  again  softly,  gauging 
the  while  the  nerve-sensations  produced.  It  fasci- 
nated him,  and  he  grew  suddenly  fond  of  this  subtle 
flesh  of  his  that  worked  so  beautifully  and  smoothly 
and  delicately.  Then  he  would  cast  a  glance  of  fear 
at  the  wolf-circle  drawn  expectantly  about  him,  and 
like  a  blow  the  realization  would  strike  him  that  this 
wonderful  body  of  his,  this  living  flesh,  was  no  more 
than  so  much  meat,  a  quest  of  ravenous  animals,  to 


38  WHITE   FANG 

be  torn  and  slashed  by  their  hungry  fangs,  to  be  sus- 
tenance to  them  as  the  moose  and  the  rabbit  had 
often  been  sustenance  to  him. 

He  came  out  of  a  doze  that  was  half  nightmare, 
to  see  the  red-hued  she-wolf  before  him.  She  was 
not  more  than  half  a  dozen  feet  away,  sitting  in  the 
snow  and  wistfully  regarding  him.  The  two  dogs 
were  whimpering  and  snarling  at  his  feet,  but  she 
took  no  notice  of  them.  She  was  looking  at  the  man, 
and  for  some  time  he  returned  her  look.  There  was 
nothing  threatening  about  her.  She  looked  at  him 
merely  with  a  great  wistfulness,  but  he  knew  it  to 
be  the  wistfulness  of  an  equally  great  hunger.  He 
was  the  food,  and  the  sight  of  him  excited  in  her  the 
gustatory  sensations.  Her  mouth  opened,  the  saliva 
drooled  forth,  and  she  licked  her  chops  with  the 
pleasure  of  anticipation. 

A  spasm  of  fear  went  through  him.  He  reached 
hastily  for  a  brand  to  throw  at  her.  But  even  as 
he  reached,  and  before  his  fingers  had  closed  on  the 
missile,  she  sprang  back  into  safety  ;  and  he  knew 
that  she  was  used  to  having  things  thrown  at  her. 
She  had  snarled  as  she  sprang  away,  baring  her  white 
fangs  to  their  roots,  all  her  wistfulness  vanishing, 
being  replaced  by  a  carnivorous  malignit}^  that 
made  him  shudder.  He  glanced  at  tl]|e  hand  that  held 
the  brand,  noticing  the  cunning  delicacy  of  the  fingers 
that  gripped  it,  how  they  adjusted  themselves  to  all 


THE   HUNGER   CRY  39 

the  inequalities  of  the  surface,  curling  over  and  under 
and  about  the  rough  wood,  and  one  little  finger,  too 
close  to  the  burning  portion  of  the  brand,  sensitively 
and  automatically  writhing  back  from  the  hurtful 
heat  to  a  cooler  gripping-place ;  and  in  the  same 
instant  he  seemed  to  see  a  vision  of  those  same  sensi- 
tive and  delicate  fingers  being  crushed  and  torn  by 
the  white  teeth  of  the  she-wolf.  Never  had  he  been 
so  fond  of  this  hody  of  his  as  now  when  his  tenure  of 
it  was  so  precarious. 

All  night,  with  burning  brands,  he  fought  off  the 
hungry  pack.  When  he  dozed  despite  himself,  the 
whimpering  and  snarling  of  the  dogs  aroused  him. 
Morning  came,  but  for  the  first  time  the  light  of  day 
failed  to  scatter  the  wolves.  The  man  waited  in  vain 
for  them  to  go.  They  remained  in  a  circle  about  him 
and  his  fire,  displaying  an  arrogance  of  possession  that 
shook  his  courage  born  of  the  morning  light. 

He  made  one  desperate  attempt  to  pull  out  on  the 
trail.  But  the  moment  he  left  the  protection  of  the 
fire,  the  boldest  wolf  leaped  for  him,  but  leaped 
short.  He  saved  himself  by  springing  back,  the  jaws 
snapping  together  a  scant  six  inches  from  his  thigh. 
The  rest  of  the  pack  was  now  up  and  surging  upon 
him,  and  a  throwing  of  firebrands  right  and  left  was 
necessary  to  drive  them  back  to  a  respectful  distance. 

Even  in  the  daylight  he  did  not  dare  leave  the  fire 
to  chop  fresh  wood.     Twenty  feet  away  towered  a 


40  WHITE   FANG 

huge  dead  spruce.  He  spent  half  the  day  extending 
his  campfire  to  the  tree,  at  any  moment  a  half  dozen 
burning  fagots  ready  at  hand  to  fling  at  his  enemies. 
Once  at  the  tree,  he  studied  the  surrounding  forest 
in  order  to  fell  the  tree  in  the  direction  of  the  most 
firewood. 

The  night  was  a  repetition  of  the  night  before, 
save  that  the  need  for  sleep  was  becoming  overpower- 
ing. The  snarling  of  his  dogs  was  losing  its  efficacy. 
Besides,  they  w^ere  snarling  all  the  time,  and  his  be- 
numbed and  drowsy  senses  no  longer  took  note  of 
changing  pitch  and  intensity.  He  awoke  with  a 
start.  The  she-wolf  was  less  than  a  yard  from  him. 
Mechanically,  at  short  range,  without  letting  go  of  it, 
he  thrust  a  brand  full  into  her  open  and  snarling 
mouth.  She  sprang  away,  yelling  with  pain,  and 
while  he  took  delight  in  the  smell  of  burning  flesh 
and  hair,  he  watched  her  shaking  her  head  and 
growling  wrathfully  a  score  of  feet  away. 

But  this  time,  before  he  dozed  again,  he  tied  a 
burning  pine-knot  to  his  right  hand.  His  eyes  were 
closed  but  a  few  minutes  when  the  burn  of  the  flame 
on  his  flesh  awakened  him.  For  several  hours  he 
adhered  to  this  programme.  Every  time  he  was  thus 
awakened  he  drove  back  the  wolves  with  flying 
brands,  replenished  the  fire,  and  rearranged  the  pine- 
knot  on  his  hand.  All  worked  well,  but  there 
came  a  time  when  he  fastened   the  pine  knot  inse- 


THE   HUNGER  CRY  41 

curely.  As  his  eyes  closed  it  fell  away  from  his 
hand. 

He  dreamed.  It  seemed  to  him  that  he  was  in 
Fort  McGurry.  It  was  warm  and  comfortable,  and 
he  was  playing  cribbage  with  the  Factor.  Also,  it 
seemed  to  him  that  the  fort  was  besieged  by  wolves. 
They  were  howling  at  the  very  gates,  and  sometimes 
he  and  the  Factor  paused  from  the  game  to  listen  and 
laugh  at  the  futile  efforts  of  the  wolves  to  get  in. 
And  then,  so  strange  was  the  dream,  there  was  a 
crash.  The  door  was  burst  open.  He  could  see  the 
wolves  flooding  into  the  big  living-room  of  the  fort. 
They  were  leaping  straight  for  him  and  the  Factor. 
With  the  bursting  open  of  the  door,  the  noise  of  their 
howling  had  increased  tremendously.  This  howling 
now  bothered  him.  His  dream  was  merging  into 
something  else  —  he  knew  not  what ;  but  through  it 
all,  following  him,  persisted  the  howling. 

And  then  he  awoke  to  find  the  howling  real. 
There  was  a  great  snarling  and  yelping.  The  wolves 
were  rushing  him.  They  were  all  about  him  and 
upon  him.  The  teeth  of  one  had  closed  upon  his 
arm.  Instinctively  he  leaped  into  the  fire,  and  as 
he  leaped,  he  felt  the  sharp  slash  of  teeth  that  tore 
through  the  flesh  of  his  leg.  Then  began  a  fire  fight. 
His  stout  mittens  temporarily  protected  his  hands, 
and  he  scooped  live  coals  into  the  air  in  all  directions, 
until  the  camp-fire  took  on  the  semblance  of  a  volcano. 


42  WHITE   FANG 

But  it  could  not  last  long.  His  face  was  blistering 
in  the  heat,  his  eyebrows  and  lashes  were  singed  off, 
and  the  heat  was  becoming  unbearable  to  his  feet. 
With  a  flaming  brand  in  each  hand,  he  sprang  to  the 
edge  of  the  fire.  The  wolves  had  been  driven  back. 
On  every  side,  wherever  the  live  coals  had  fallen,  the 
snow  was  sizzling,  and  every  little  while  a  retiring 
wolf,  with  wild  leap  and  snort  and  snarl,  announced 
that  one  such  live  coal  had  been  stepped  upon. 

Flinging  his  brands  at  the  nearest  of  his  enemies, 
the  man  thrust  his  smouldering  mittens  into  the 
snow  and  stamped  about  to  cool  his  feet.  His  two 
dogs  were  missing,  and  he  well  knew  that  they  had 
served  as  a  course  in  the  protracted  meal  which  had 
begun  days  before  with  Fatty,  the  last  course  of 
which  would  likely  be  himself  in  the  days  to 
follow. 

"  You  ain't  got  me  yet ! "  he  cried,  savagely  shak- 
ing his  fist  at  the  hungry  beasts  ;  and  at  the  sound 
of  his  voice  the  whole  circle  was  agitated,  there  was 
a  general  snarl,  and  the  she-wolf  slid  up  close  to 
him  across  the  snow  and  watched  him  with  hungry 
wistfulness. 

He  set  to  work  to  carry  out  a  new  idea  that  had 
come  to  him.  He  extended  the  fire  into  a  large 
circle.  Inside  this  circle  he  crouched,  his  sleeping 
outfit  under  him  as  a  protection  against  the  melting 
snow.      When  he   had   thus   disappeared   within  his 


THE   HUNGER  CRY  43 

shelter  of  flame,  the  whole  pack  came  curiously  to 
the  rim  of  the  fire  to  see  what  had  become  of  him. 
Hitherto  they  had  been  denied  access  to  the  fire,  and 
they  now  settled  down  in  a  close-drawn  circle,  like 
so  many  dogs,  blinking  and  yawning  and  stretching 
their  lean  bodies  in  the  unaccustomed  warmth.  Then 
the  she-wolf  sat  down,  pointed  her  nose  at  a  star,  and 
began  to  howl.  One  by  one  the  wolves  joined  her, 
till  the  whole  pack,  on  haunches,  with  noses  pointed 
skyward,  was  howling  its  hunger  cry. 

Dawn  came,  and  daylight.  The  fire  was  burning 
low.  The  fuel  had  run  out,  and  there  was  need  to 
get  more.  The  man  attempted  to  step  out  of  his 
circle  of  flame,  but  the  wolves  surged  to  meet  him. 
Burning  brands  made  them  spring  aside,  but  they  no 
longer  sprang  back.  In  vain  he  strove  to  drive  them 
back.  As  he  gave  up  and  stumbled  inside  his  circle, 
a  wolf  leaped  for  him,  missed,  and  landed  with  all 
four  feet  in  the  coals.  It  cried  out  with  terror,  at 
the  same  time  snarling,  and  scrambled  back  to  cool 
its  paws  in  the  snow. 

The  man  sat  down  on  his  blankets  in  a  crouching 
position.  His  body  leaned  forward  from  the  hips. 
His  shoulders,  relaxed  and  drooping,  and  his  head 
on  his  knees  advertised  that  he  had  given  up  the 
struggle.  Now  and  again  he  raised  his  head  to  note 
the  dying  down  of  the  fire.  The  circle  of  flame  and 
coals  was   breaking  into  segments  with  openings  in 


44  WHITE   FANG 

between.  These  openings  grew  in  size,  the  segments 
diminished. 

"  I  guess  you  can  come  an'  get  me  any  time,"  he 
mumbled.     "  Anyway,  I'm  goin'  to  sleep." 

Once  he  wakened,  and  in  an  opening  in  the  circle, 
directly  in  front  of  him,  he  saw  the  she-wolf  gazing 
at  him. 

Again  he  awakened,  a  little  later,  though  it 
seemed  hours  to  him.  A  mysterious  change  had 
taken  place  —  so  mysterious  a  change  that  he  was 
shocked  wider  awake.  Something  had  happened. 
He  could  not  understand  at  first.  Then  he  dis- 
covered it.  The  wolves  were  gone.  Remained  only 
the  trampled  snow  to  show  how  closely  they  had 
pressed  him.  Sleep  was  welling  up  and  gripping  him 
again,  his  head  was  sinking  down  upon  his  knees, 
when  he  roused  with  a  sudden  start. 

There  were  cries  of  men,  the  churn  of  sleds,  the 
creaking  of  harnesses,  and  the  eager  whimpering  of 
straining  dogs.  Four  sleds  pulled  in  from  the  river 
bed  to  the  camp  among  the  trees.  Half  a  dozen  men 
were  about  the  man  who  crouched  in  the  centre 
of  the  dying  lire.  They  were  shaking  and  prod- 
ding him  into  consciousness.  He  looked  at  them 
like  a  drunken  man  and  maundered  in  strange,  sleepy 
speech : 

"  Red  she-wolf.  .  .  .  Come  in  with  the  dogs  at 
feedin'  time.  .  .  .     First  she  ate  the  dog-food.  .  .  . 


THE  HUNGER  CRY  45 

Then  she  ate  the  dogs.  .  .  .  An'  after  that  she  ate 
Bill  .  .  ." 

"  Where's  Lord  Alfred  ?  "  one  of  the  men  bellowed 
in  his  ear,  shaking  him  roughly. 

He  shook  his  head  slowly.  "  No,  she  didn't  eat 
him.  .  .  .     He's  roostin'  in  a  tree  at  the  last  camp." 

"  Dead  ?  "  the  man  shouted. 

"  An'  in  a  box,"  Henry  answered.  He  jerked  his 
shoulder  petulantly  away  from  the  grip  of  his  ques- 
tioner. "  Say,  you  lemme  alone.  .  .  .  I'm  jes' 
plumb  tuckered  out.  .  .  .      Goo'  night,  everybody." 

His  eyes  fluttered  and  went  shut.  His  chin  fell 
forward  on  his  chest.  And  even  as  they  eased  him 
down  upon  the  blankets  his  snores  were  rising  on 
the  frosty  air. 

But  there  was  another  sound.  Far  and  faint  it 
was,  in  the  remote  distance,  the  cry  of  the  hungry 
wolf-pack  as  it  took  the  trail  of  other  meat  than  the 
man  it  had  just  missed. 


Chapter  I 
Chapter  II 
Chapter  III 
Chapter  IV 
Chapter     Y 


PART    TWO 

BORN   OF   THE   WILD 


The  Battle  of  the  Fangs 

The  Lair 

The  Gray  Cub 

The  Wall  of  the  World 

The  Law  of  Meat 


.l^^^,»j^lJ!.yf.S^-AV{ 


CHAPTER   I 

THE    BATTLE    OF    THE    FANGS 

It  was  the  she-wolf  who  had  first  caught  the 
sound  of  men's  voices  and  the  whining  of  the  sled- 
dogs  ;  and  it  was  the  she-wolf  who  was  first  to 
spring  away  from  the  cornered  man  in  his  circle  of 
dying  flame.  The  pack  had  been  loath  to  forego  the 
kill  it  had  hunted  down,  and  it  lingered  for  several 
minutes,  making  sure  of  the  sounds ;  and  then  it,  too, 
sprang  away  on  the  trail  made  by  the  she-wolf. 

Running  at  the  forefront  of  the  pack  was  a  large 
gray  wolf  —  one  of  its  several  leaders.  It  was  he 
who  directed  the  pack's  course  on  the  heels  of  the 
she-wolf.  It  was  he  who  snarled  warningly  at  the 
younger  members  of  the  pack  or  slashed  at  them 
with  his  fangs  when  they  ambitiously  tried  to  pass 
him.  And  it  was  he  who  increased  the  pace  when 
he  sighted  the  she-wolf,  now  trotting  slowly  across 
the  snow. 

She  dropped  in  alongside  by  him,  as  though  it 
were  her  appointed  position,  and  took  the  pace  of  the 
pack.     He  did  not  snarl  at  her,  nor  show  his  teeth, 

E  49 


50  WHITE    FANG 

when  any  leap  of  hers  chanced  to  put  her  in  advance 
of  him.  .  On  the  contrary,  he  seemed  kindly  disposed 
toward  her  —  too  kindly  to  suit  her,  for  he  was  prone 
to  run  near  to  her,  and  when  he  ran  too  near  it  was 
she  who  snarled  and  showed  her  teeth.  Nor  was  she 
above  slashing  his  shoulder  sharply  on  occasion.  At 
such  times  he  betrayed  no  anger.  He  merely  sprang 
to  the  side  and  ran  stiffly  ahead  for  several  awkward 
leaps,  in  carriage  and  conduct  resembling  an  abashed 
country  swain. 

This  was  his  one  trouble  in  the  running  of  the 
pack ;  but  she  had  other  troubles.  On  her  other  side 
ran  a  gaunt  old  wolf,  grizzled  and  marked  with  the 
scars  of  many  battles.  He  ran  always  on  her  right 
side.  The  fact  that  he  had  but  one  eye,  and  that  the 
left  eye,  might  account  for  this.  He,  also,  was  ad- 
dicted to  crowding  her,  to  veering  toward  her  till  his 
scarred  muzzle  touched  her  body,  or  shoulder,  or  neck. 
As  with  the  running  mate  on  the  left,  she  repelled 
these  attentions  with  her  teeth  ;  but  when  both  be- 
stowed their  attentions  at  the  same  time  she  was 
roughly  jostled,  being  compelled,  with  quick  snaps  to 
either  side,  to  drive  both  lovers  away  and  at  the  same 
time  to  maintain  her  forward  leap  with  the  pack 
and  see  the  way  of  her  feet  before  her.  At  such 
times  her  running  mates  flashed  their  teeth  and 
growled  threateningly  across  at  each  other.  They 
might  have  fought,  but  even  wooing  and  its  rivalry 


THE   BATTLE   OF   THE   FANGS  51 

waited  upon  the  more  pressing  hunger-need  of  the 
pack. 

After  each  repulse,  when  the  old  wolf  sheered 
abruptly  away  from  the  sharp-toothed  object  of  his 
desire,  he  shouldered  against  a  young  three-year-old 
that  ran  on  his  blind  right  side.  This  young  wolf 
had  attained  his  full  size  ;  and,  considering  the  weak 
and  famished  condition  of  the  pack,  he  possessed 
more  than  the  average  vigor  and  spirit.  Nevertheless, 
he  ran  with  his  head  even  with  the  shoulder  of  his 
one-eyed  elder.  When  he  ventured  to  run  abreast  of 
the  older  wolf,  (which  was  seldom),  a  snarl  and  a 
snap  sent  him  back  even  with  the  shoulder  again. 
Sometimes,  however,  he  dropped  cautiously  and 
slowly  behind  and  edged  in  between  the  old  leader 
and  the  she-wolf.  This  was  doubly  resented,  even 
triply  resented.  When  she  snarled  her  displeasure, 
the  old  leader  would  whirl  on  the  three-year-old. 
Sometimes  she  whirled  with  him.  And  sometimes 
the  young  leader  on  the  left  whirled,  too. 

At  such  times,  confronted  by  three  sets  of  savage 
teeth,  the  young  wolf  stopped  precipitately,  throwing 
himself  back  on  his  haunches,  with  fore-legs  stiff, 
mouth  menacing,  and  mane  bristling.  This  confusion 
in  the  front  of  the  moving  pack  always  caused  con- 
fusion in  the  rear.  The  wolves  behind  collided  with 
the  young  wolf  and  expressed  their  displeasure  by 
administering  sharp  nips  on  his  hind-legs  and  flanks. 


52  WHITE   FANG 

He  was  laying  up  trouble  for  himself,  for  lack  of  food 
and  short  tempers  went  together ;  but  with  the  bound- 
less faith  of  youth  he  persisted  in  repeating  the  ma- 
noeuvre every  little  while,  though  it  never  succeeded 
in  gaining  anything  for  him  but  discomfiture. 

Had  there  been  food,  love-making  and  fighting 
would  have  gone  on  apace,  and  the  pack-formation 
would  have  been  broken  up.  But  the  situation  of 
the  pack  was  desperate.  It  was  lean  with  long-stand- 
ing hunger.  It  ran  below  its  ordinary  speed.  At 
the  rear  limped  the  weak  members,  the  very  young 
and  the  very  old.  At  the  front  w^ere  the  strongest. 
Yet  all  were  more  like  skeletons  than  full-bodied 
wolves.  Nevertheless,  with  the  exception  of  the  ones 
that  limped,  the  movements  of  the  animals  were 
effortless  and  tireless.  Their  stringy  muscles  seemed 
founts  of  inexhaustible  energy.  Behind  every  steel-like 
contraction  of  a  muscle,  lay  another  steel-like  con- 
traction, and  another,  and  another,  apparently  with- 
out end. 

They  ran  many  miles  that  day.  They  ran  through 
the  night.  And  the  next  day  found  them  still  run- 
ning. They  w^ere  running  over  the  surface  of  a  world 
frozen  and  dead.  No  life  stirred.  They  alone  moved 
through  the  vast  inertness.  They  alone  were  alive, 
and  they  sought  for  other  things  that  were  alive  in 
order  that  they  might  devour  them  and  continue  to 
live. 


THE   BATTLE   OF   THE   FANGS  63 

They  crossed  low  divides  and  ranged  a  dozen  small 
streams  in  a  lower-lying  country  before  their  quest 
was  rewarded.  Then  they  came  upon  moose.  It 
was  a  big  bull  they  first  found.  Here  was  meat  and 
life,  and  it  was  guarded  by  no  mysterious  fires  nor 
flying  missiles  of  flame.  Splay  hoofs  and  palmated 
antlers  they  knew,  and  they  flung  their  customary 
patience  and  caution  to  the  wind.  It  was  a  brief 
fight  and  fierce.  The  big  bull  was  beset  on  every 
side.  He  ripped  them  open  or  split  their  skulls  with 
shrewdly  driven  blows  of  his  great  hoofs.  He  crushed 
them  and  broke  them  on  his  large  horns.  He  stamped 
them  into  the  snow  under  him  in  the  wallowing 
struggle.  But  he  was  foredoomed,  and  he  went  down 
with  the  she-wolf  tearing  savagely  at  his  throat,  and 
with  other  teeth  fixed  everywhere  upon  him,  devour- 
ing him  alive,  before  ever  his  last  struggles  ceased 
or  his  last  damage  had  been  wrought. 

There  was  food  in  plenty.  The  bull  weighed  over 
eight  hundred  pounds  —  fully  twenty  pounds  of  meat 
per  mouth  for  the  forty-odd  wolves  of  the  pack. 
But  if  they  could  fast  prodigiously,  they  could  feed 
prodigiously,  and  soon  a  few  scattered  bones  were  all 
that  remained  of  the  splendid  live  brute  that  had 
faced  the  pack  a  few  hours  before. 

There  was  now  much  resting  and  sleeping.  With 
full  stomachs,  bickering  and  quarrelling  began  among 
the  younger  males,  and  this  continued  through   the 


64  WHITE   FANG 

few  days  that  followed  before  the  breaking-up  of  the 
pack.  The  famine  was  over.  The  wolves  were  now 
in  the  country  of  game,  and  though  they  still  hunted 
in  pack,  they  hunted  more  cautiously,  cutting  out 
heavy  cows  or  crippled  old  bulls  from  the  small 
moose-herds  they  ran   across. 

There  came  a  day,  in  this  land  of  plenty,  when  the 
wolf-pack  split  in  half  and  went  in  different  direc- 
tions. The  she-wolf,  the  young  leader  on  her  left, 
and  the  one-eyed  elder  on  her  right,  led  their  half  of 
the  pack  down  to  the  Mackenzie  River  and  across 
into  the  lake  country  to  the  east.  Each  day  this 
remnant  of  the  pack  dwindled.  Two  by  two,  male 
and  female,  the  wolves  were  deserting.  Occasionally 
a  solitary  male  was  driven  out  by  the  sharp  teeth 
of  his  rivals.  In  the  end  there  remained  only  four  : 
the  she-wolf,  the  young  leader,  the  one-eyed  one,  and 
the  ambitious  three-year-old. 

The  she-wolf  had  by  now  developed  a  ferocious 
temper.  Her  three  suitors  all  bore  the  marks  of  her 
teeth.  Yet  they  never  replied  in  kind,  never  defended 
themselves  against  her.  They  turned  their  shoulders 
to  her  most  savage  slashes,  and  with  wagging  tails 
and  mincing  steps  strove  to  placate  her  wrath.  But 
if  they  were  all  mildness  toward  her,  they  were  all 
fierceness  toward  one  another.  The  tliree-y ear-old 
grew  too  ambitious  in  his  fierceness.  He  caught  the 
one-eyed  elder  on  his  blind  side  and   ripped  his  ear 


THE   BATTLE   OF   THE   FANGS  55 

into  ribbons.  Though  the  grizzled  old  fellow  could 
see  only  on  one  side,  against  the  youth  and  vigor  of 
the  other  he  brought  into  play  the  wisdom  of  long 
years  of  experience.  His  lost  eye  and  his  scarred 
muzzle  bore  evidence  to  the  nature  of  his  experience. 
He  had  survived  too  many  battles  to  be  in  doubt 
for  a  moment  about  what  to  do. 

The  battle  began  fairly,  but  it  did  not  end  fairly. 
There  was  no  telling  what  the  outcome  would  have 
been,  for  the  third  wolf  joined  the  elder,  and  to- 
gether, old  leader  and  young  leader,  they  attacked 
the  ambitious  three-year-old  and  proceeded  to  destroy 
him.  He  was  beset  on  either  side  by  the  merciless 
fangs  of  his  erstwhile  comrades.  Forgotten  were 
the  days  they  had  hunted  together,  the  game  they 
had  pulled  down,  the  famine  they  had  suffered. 
That  business  was  a  thing  of  the  past.  The  business 
of  love  was  at  hand  —  ever  a  sterner  and  crueler 
business  than  that  of  food-getting. 

And  in  the  meanwhile,  the  she-wolf,  the  cause  of 
it  all,  sat  down  contentedly  on  her  haunches  and 
watched.  She  was  even  pleased.  This  was  her 
day,  —  and  it  came  not  often, — when  manes  bristled, 
and  fang  smote  fang  or  ripped  and  tore  the  yielding 
flesh,  all  for  the  possession  of  her. 

And  in  the  business  of  love  the  three-year-old,  who 
had  made  this  his  first  adventure  upon  it,  yielded  up 
his  life.     On  either  side  of  his  body  stood  his  two 


56  WHITE   FANG 

rivals.  They  were  gazing  at  the  she-wolf,  who  sat 
smiling  in  the  snow.  But  the  elder  leader  was  wise, 
very  vv^ise,  in  love  even  as  in  battle.  The  younger 
leader  turned  his  head  to  lick  a  wound  on  his  shoulder. 
The  curve  of  his  neck  was  turned  toward  his  rival. 
With  his  one  eye  the  elder  saw  the  opportunity. 
He  darted  in  low  and  closed  with  his  fangs.  It  was 
a  long,  ripping  slash,  and  deep  as  well.  His  teeth,  in 
passing,  burst  the  wall  of  the  great  vein  of  the  throat. 
Then  he  leaped  clear. 

The  young  leader  snarled  terribly,  but  his  snarl 
broke  midmost  into  a  tickling  cough.  Bleeding  and 
coughing,  already  stricken,  he  sprang  at  the  elder  and 
fought  while  life  faded  from  him,  his  legs  going  weak 
beneath  him,  the  light  of  day  dulling  on  his  eyes,  his 
blows  and  springs  falling  shorter  and  shorter. 

And  all  the  while  the  she-wolf  sat  on  her  haunches 
and  smiled.  She  was  made  glad  in  vague  ways  by 
the  battle,  for  this  was  the  love-making  of  the  Wild, 
the  sex-tragedy  of  the  natural  world  that  was  tragedy 
only  to  those  that  died.  To  those  that  survived  it 
was  not  tragedy,  but  realization  and  achievement. 

When  the  young  leader  lay  in  the  snow  and  moved 
no  more,  One  Eye  stalked  over  to  the  she-wolf.  His 
carriage  was  one  of  mingled  triumph  and  caution. 
He  was  plainly  expectant  of  a  rebuff,  and  he  was  just 
as  plainly  surprised  when  her  teeth  did  not  flash  out 
at  him  in  anger.     For  the  first  time  she  met  him  with 


THE   BATTLE   OF   THE   FANGS  57 

a  kindly  manner.  She  sniffed  noses  with  him,  and 
even  condescended  to  leap  about  and  frisk  and  play 
with  him  in  quite  puppyish  fashion.  And  he,  for  all 
his  gray  years  and  sage  experience,  behaved  quite  as 
puppyishly  and  even  a  little  more  foolishly. 

Forgotten  already  were  the  vanquished  rivals  and 
the  love-tale  red- written  on  the  snow.  Forgotten, 
save  once,  when  old  One  Eye  stopped  for  a  moment 
to  lick  his  stiffening  wounds.  Then  it  was  that  his 
lips  half  writhed  into  a  snarl,  and  the  hair  of  his  neck 
and  shoulders  involuntarily  bristled,  while  he  half 
crouched  for  a  spring,  his  claws  spasmodically  clutch- 
ing into  the  snow-surface  for  firmer  footing.  But  it 
was  all  forgotten  the  next  moment,  as  he  sprang  after 
the  she-w^olf,  who  was  coyly  leading  him  a  chase 
through  the  woods. 

After  that  they  ran  side  by  side,  like  good  friends 
who  have  come  to  an  understanding.  The  days 
passed  by,  and  they  kept  together,  hunting  their 
meat  and  killing  and  eating  it  in  common.  After  a 
time  the  she-wolf  began  to  grow  restless.  She  seemed 
to  be  searching  for  something  that  she  could  not  find. 
The  hollows  under  fallen  trees  seemed  to  attract  her, 
and  she  spent  much  time  nosing  about  among  the 
larger  snow^-piled  crevices  in  the  rocks  and  in  the 
caves  of  overhanging  banks.  Old  One  Eye  was  not 
interested  at  all,  but  he  followed  her  good-naturedly 
in  her  quest,  and  when  her  investigations  in  particular 


58  WHITE   FANG 

places  were  unusually  protracted,  he  would  lie  down 
and  wait  until    she  was  ready  to  go  on. 

They  did  not  remain  in  one  place,  but  travelled 
across  country  until  they  regained  the  Mackenzie 
River,  down  which  they  slowly  went,  leaving  it  often 
to  hunt  game  along  the  small  streams  that  entered 
it,  but  always  returning  to  it  again.  Sometimes  they 
chanced  upon  other  wolves,  usually  in  pairs ;  but 
there  was  no  friendliness  of  intercourse  displayed 
on  either  side,  no  gladness  at  meeting,  no  desire  to 
return  to  the  pack-formation.  Several  times  they 
encountered  solitary  wolves.  These  were  always 
males,  and  they  were  pressingly  insistent  on  joining 
with  One  Eye  and  his  mate.  This  he  resented,  and 
when  she  stood  shoulder  to  shoulder  with  him,  bris- 
tling and  showing  her  teeth,  the  aspiring  solitary  ones 
would  back  off,  turn  tail,  and  continue  on  their  lonely 
way. 

One  moonlight  night,  running  through  the  quiet 
forest.  One  Eye  suddenly  halted.  His  muzzle  went 
up,  his  tail  stiffened,  and  his  nostrils  dilated  as  he 
scented  the  air.  One  foot  also  he  held  up,  after 
the  manner  of  a  dog.  He  was  not  satisfied,  and 
he  continued  to  smell  the  air,  striving  to  under- 
stand the  message  borne  upon  it  to  him.  One  care- 
less sniff  had  satisfied  his  mate,  and  she  trotted  on 
to  reassure  him.  Though  he  followed  her,  he  was 
still  dubious,  and  he  could  not  forbear  an  occasional 


THE  BATTLE  OF  THE  FANGS         59 

halt  in  order  more  carefully  to  study  the  warn- 
ing. 

She  crept  out  cautiously  on  the  edge  of  a  large  open 
space  in  the  midst  of  the  trees.  For  some  time  she 
stood  alone.  Then  One  Eye,  creeping  and  crawling, 
every  sense  on  the  alert,  every  hair  radiating  infinite 
suspicion,  joined  her.  They  stood  side  by  side, 
watching  and  listening  and  smelling. 

To  their  ears  came  the  sounds  of  dogs  wrangling 
and  scuffling,  the  guttural  cries  of  men,  the  sharper 
voices  of  scolding  women,  and  once  the  shrill  and 
plaintive  cry  of  a  child.  With  the  exception  of  the 
huge  bulks  of  the  skin  lodges,  little  could  be  seen  save 
the  flames  of  the  fire,  broken  by  the  movements  of 
intervening  bodies,  and  the  smoke  rising  slowly  on 
the  quiet  air.  But  to  their  nostrils  came  the  myriad 
smells  of  an  Indian  camp,  carrying  a  story  that  was 
largely  incomprehensible  to  One  Eye,  but  every  detail 
of  which  the  she-wolf  knew. 

She  was  strangely  stirred,  and  sniffed  and  sniffed 
with  an  increasing  delight.  But  old  One  Eye  was 
doubtful.  He  betrayed  his  apprehension,  and  started 
tentatively  to  go.  She  turned  and  touched  his  neck 
with  her  muzzle  in  a  reassuring  way,  then  regarded 
the  camp  again.  A  new  wistfulness  was  in  her  face, 
but  it  was  not  the  wistfulness  of  hunger.  She  was 
thrilling  to  a  desire  that  urged  her  to  go  forward,  to 
be  in  closer  to  that  fire,  to   be  squabbling  with  the 


60  WHITE   FANG 

dogs,  and  to  be  avoiding  and  dodging  the  stumbling 
feet  of  men. 

One  Eye  moved  impatiently  beside  her ;  her  unrest 
came  back  upon  her,  and  she  knew  again  her  pressing 
need  to  find  the  thing  for  which  she  searched.  She 
turned  and  trotted  back  into  the  forest,  to  the  great 
relief  of  One  Eye,  who  trotted  a  little  to  the  fore 
until  they  were  well  within  the  shelter  of  the  trees. 

As  they  slid  along,  noiseless  as  shadows,  in  the 
moonlight,  they  came  upon  a  run-way.  Both  noses 
went  down  to  the  footprints  in  the  snow.  These 
footprints  were  very  fresh.  One  Eye  ran  ahead  cau- 
tiously, his  mate  at  his  heels.  The  broad  pads  of 
their  feet  were  spread  wide  and  in  contact  with  the 
snow  were  like  velvet.  One  Eye  caught  sight  of  a 
dim  movement  of  white  in  the  midst  of  the  white. 
His  sliding  gait  had  been  deceptively  swift,  but  it 
was  as  nothing  to  the  speed  at  which  he  now  ran. 
Before  him  was  bounding  the  faint  patch  of  white 
he  had  discovered. 

They  were  running  along  a  narrow  alley  flanked 
on  either  side  by  a  growth  of  young  spruce.  Through 
the  trees  the  mouth  of  the  alley  could  be  seen,  open- 
ing out  on  a  moonlit  glade.  Old  One  Eye  was 
rapidly  overhauling  the  fleeing  shape  of  white. 
Bound  by  bound  he  gained.  Now  he  was  upon  it. 
One  leap  more  and  his  teeth  would  be  sinking  into 
it.     But  that  leap  was  never  made.     High  in  the  air, 


THE   BATTLE   OF  THE   FANGS  61 

and  straight  up,  soared  the  shape  of  white,  now  a 
struggling  snowshoe  rabbit  that  leaped  and  bounded, 
executing  a  fantastic  dance  there  above  him  in  the 
air  and  never  once  returning  to  earth. 

One  Eye  sprang  back  with  a  snort  of  sudden  fright, 
then  shrank  down  to  the  snow  and  crouched,  snarl- 
ing threats  at  this  thing  of  fear  he  did  not  under- 
stand. But  the  she-wolf  coolly  thrust  past  him. 
She  poised  for  a  moment,  then  sprang  for  the  danc- 
ing rabbit.  She,  too,  soared  high,  but  not  so  high 
as  the  quarry,  and  her  teeth  clipped  emptily  together 
with  a  metallic  snap.  She  made  another  leap,  and 
another. 

Her  mate  had  slowly  relaxed  from  his  crouch  and 
was  watching  her.  He  now  evinced  displeasure  at 
her  repeated  failures,  and  himself  made  a  mighty 
spring  upward.  His  teeth  closed  upon  the  rabbit, 
and  he  bore  it  back  to  earth  with  him.  But  at  the 
same  time  there  was  a  suspicious  crackling  move- 
ment beside  him,  and  his  astonished  eye  saw  a  young 
spruce  sapling  bending  down  above  him  to  strike 
him.  His  jaws  let  go  their  grip,  and  he  leaped  back- 
ward to  escape  this  strange  danger,  his  lips  drawn 
back  from  his  fangs,  his  throat  snarling,  every  hair 
bristling  with  rage  and  fright.  And  in  that  moment 
the  sapling  reared  its  slender  length  upright  and  the 
rabbit  soared  dancing  in  the  air  again. 

The  she-wolf  was  angry.     She  sank  her  fangs  into 


62  WHITE   FANG 

her  mate's  shoulder  in  reproof  ;  and  he,  frightened,  un- 
aware of  what  constituted  this  new  onslaught,  struck 
back  ferociously  and  in  still  greater  fright,  ripping 
down  the  side  of  the  she-wolf's  muzzle.  For  him  to 
resent  such  reproof  was  equally  unexpected  to  her, 
and  she  sprang  upon  him  in  snarling  indignation. 
Then  he  discovered  his  mistake  and  tried  to  placate 
her.  But  she  proceeded  to  punish  him  roundly,  until 
he  gave  over  all  attempts  at  placation,  and  whirled 
in  a  circle,  his  head  away  from  her,  his  shoulders 
receiving  the  punishment  of  her  teeth. 

In  the  meantime  the  rabbit  danced  above  them  in 
the  air.  The  she-wolf  sat  down  in  the  snow,  and 
old  One  Eye,  now  more  in  fear  of  his  mate  than  of 
the  mysterious  sapling,  again  sprang  for  the  rabbit. 
As  he  sank  back  with  it  between  his  teeth,  he  kept 
his  eye  on  the  sapling.  As  before,  it  followed  him 
back  to  earth.  He  crouched  down  under  the  impend- 
ing blow,  his  hair  bristling,  but  his  teeth  still  keep- 
ing tight  hold  of  the  rabbit.  But  the  blow  did  not 
fall.  The  sapling  remained  bent  above  him.  When 
he  moved  it  moved,  and  he  growled  at  it  through 
his  clenched  jaws ;  when  he  remained  still,  it  re- 
mained still,  and  he  concluded  it  was  safer  to  con- 
tinue remaining  still.  Yet  the  warm  blood  of  the 
rabbit  tasted  good  in  his  mouth. 

It  was  his  mate  who  relieved  him  from  the  quan- 
dary   in    which    he    found    himself.      She    took    the 


THE   BATTLE   OF   THE    FANGS  63 

rabbit  from  him,  and  while  the  sapling  swayed  and 
teetered  threateningly  above  her  she  calmly  gnawed 
off  the  rabbit's  head.  At  once  the  sapling  shot  up, 
and  after  that  gave  no  more  trouble,  remaining  in 
the  decorous  and  perpendicular  position  in  which 
nature  had  intended  it  to  grow.  Then,  between 
them,  the  she-wolf  and  One  Eye  devoured  the  game 
which  the  mysterious  sapling  had  caught  for  them. 

There  were  other  run-ways  and  alleys  where  rabbits 
were  hanging  in  the  air,  and  the  wolf-pair  prospected 
them  all,  the  she-wolf  leading  the  way,  old  One  Eye 
following  and  observant,  learning  the  method  of  rob- 
bing snares  —  a  knowledge  destined  to  stand  him  in 
good  stead  in  the  days  to  come. 


CHAPTER    II 


THE    LAIR 


For  two  days  the  she-wolf  and  One  Eye  hung 
about  the  Indian  camp.  He  was  worried  and  appre- 
hensive, yet  the  camp  lured  his  mate  and  she  was 
loath  to  depart.  But  when,  one  morning,  the  air  was 
rent  with  the  report  of  a  rifle  close  at  hand,  and  a 
bullet  smashed  against  a  tree  trunk  several  inches 
from  One  Eye's  head,  they  hesitated  no  more,  but 
went  off  on  a  long,  swinging  lope  that  put  quick 
miles  between  them  and  the  danger. 

They  did  not  go  far  —  a  couple  of  days'  journey. 
The  she-wolf's  need  to  find  the  thing  for  which 
she  searched  had  now  become  imperative.  She  was 
getting  very  heavy,  and  could  run  but  slowly.  Once, 
in  the  pursuit  of  a  rabbit,  which  she  ordinarily  would 
have  caught  with  ease,  she  gave  over  and  lay  down 
and  rested.  One  Eye  came  to  her ;  but  when  he 
touched  her  neck  gently  with  his  muzzle  she  snapped 
at  him  with  such  quick  fierceness  that  he  tumbled 
over  backward  and  cut  a  ridiculous  figure  in  his 
effort  to   escape  her  teeth.      Her    temper  was  now 

64 


THE  LAIR  65 

shorter  than  ever  ;  but  he  had  become  more  patient 
than  ever  and  more  solicitous. 

And  then  she  found  the  thing  for  v^hich  she  sought. 
It  was  a  few  miles  up  a  small  stream  that  in  the 
summer  time  flowed  into  the  Mackenzie,  but  that 
then  was  frozen  over  and  frozen  down  to  its  rocky 
bottom  —  a  dead  stream  of  solid  white  from  source 
to  mouth.  The  she-wolf  was  trotting  wearily  along, 
her  mate  well  in  advance,  when  she  came  upon  the 
overhanging,  high  clay-bank.  She  turned  aside  and 
trotted  over  to  it.  The  wear  and  tear  of  spring 
storms  and  melting  snows  had  underwashed  the 
bank  and  in  one  place  had  made  a  small  cave  out 
of  a  narrow  fissure. 

She  paused  at  the  mouth  of  the  cave  and  looked 
the  wall  over  carefully.  Then,  on  one  side  and  the 
other,  she  ran  along  the  base  of  the  wall  to  where  its 
abrupt  bulk  merged  from  the  softer-lined  landscape. 
Returning  to  the  cave,  she  entered  its  narrow  mouth. 
For  a  short  three  feet  she  was  compelled  to  crouch, 
then  the  walls  widened  and  rose  higher  in  a  little 
round  chamber  nearly  six  feet  in  diameter.  The  roof 
barely  cleared  her  head.  It  was  dry  and  cosey.  She 
inspected  it  with  painstaking  care,  while  One  Eye, 
who  had  returned,  stood  in  the  entrance  and  patiently 
watched  her.  She  dropped  her  head,  with  her  nose 
to  the  ground  and  directed  toward  a  point  near  to 
her  closely  bunched  feet,  and  around  this  point  she 


66  WHITE   FANG 

circled  several  times ;  then,  with  a  tired  sigh  that 
was  almost  a  grmit,  she  curled  her  body  in,  relaxed 
her  legs,  and  dropped  down,  her  head  toward  the 
entrance.  One  Eye,  with  pointed,  interested  ears, 
laughed  at  her,  and  beyond,  outlined  against  the 
white  light,  she  could  see  the  brush  of  his  tail 
waving  good-naturedly.  Her  own  ears,  w^ith  a 
snuggling  movement,  laid  their  sharp  points  back- 
w^ard  and  down  against  the  head  for  a  moment, 
while  her  mouth  opened  and  her  tongue  lolled  peace- 
ably out,  and  in  this  way  she  expressed  that  she  was 
pleased  and  satisfied. 

One  Eye  was  hungry.  Though  he  lay  down  in 
the  entrance  and  slept,  his  sleep  was  fitful.  He  kept 
awaking  and  cocking  his  ears  at  the  bright  world 
without,  where  the  April  sun  was  blazing  across  the 
snow.  When  he  dozed,  upon  his  ears  would  steal  the 
faint  whispers  of  hidden  trickles  of  running  water, 
and  he  would  rouse  and  listen  intently.  The  sun 
had  come  back,  and  all  the  awakening  Northland 
world  was  calling  to  him.  Life  was  stirring.  The 
feel  of  spring  was  in  the  air,  the  feel  of  growing  life 
under  the  snow,  of  sap  ascending  in  the  trees,  of  buds 
bursting  the  shackles  of  the  frost. 

He  cast  anxious  glances  at  his  mate,  but  she 
showed  no  desire  to  get  up.  He  looked  outside,  and 
half  a  dozen  snow-birds  fluttered  across  his  field  of 
vision.      He  started  to  get  up,  then  looked  back  to  his 


THE   LAIR  67 

mate  again,  and  settled  down  and  dozed.  A  shrill 
and  minute  singing  stole  upon  his  hearing.  Once, 
and  twice,  he  sleepily  brushed  his  nose  with  his  paw. 
Then  he  woke  up.  There,  buzzing  in  the  air  at  the 
tip  of  his  nose,  was  a  lone  mosquito.  It  was  a  full- 
grown  mosquito,  one  that  had  lain  frozen  in  a  dry 
log  ail  winter  and  that  had  now  been  thawed  out 
by  the  sun.  He  could  resist  the  call  of  the  world  no 
longer.     Besides,  he  was  hungry. 

He  crawled  over  to  his  mate  and  tried  to  persuade 
her  to  get  up.  But  she  only  snarled  at  him,  and  he 
walked  out  alone  into  the  bright  sunshine  to  find  the 
snow-surface  soft  underfoot  and  the  travelling  diffi- 
cult. He  went  up  the  frozen  bed  of  the  stream,  where 
the  snow,  shaded  by  the  trees,  was  yet  hard  and  crys- 
talline. He  was  gone  eight  hours,  and  he  came  back 
through  the  darkness  hungrier  than  w^hen  he  had 
started.  He  had  found  game,  but  he  had  not  caught 
it.  He  had  broken  through  the  melting  snow-crust, 
and  wallowed,  while  the  snowshoe  rabbits  had 
skimmed  along  on  top  lightly  as  ever. 

He  paused  at  the  mouth  of  the  cave  with  a  sud- 
den shock  of  suspicion.  Faint,  strange  sounds  came 
from  within.  They  were  sounds  not  made  by  his 
mate,  and  yet  they  were  remotely  familiar.  He 
bellied  cautiously  inside  and  was  met  by  a  warning 
snarl  from  the  she-wolf.  This  he  received  without 
perturbation,   though    he   obeyed   it    by   keeping    his 


68  WHITE   FANG 

distance ;  but  he  remained  interested  in  the  other 
sounds  —  faint,  muffled  sobbings  and  slubberings. 

His  mate  warned  him  irritably  away,  and  he 
curled  up  and  slept  in  the  entrance.  When  morning 
came  and  a  dim  light  pervaded  the  lair,  he  again 
sought  after  the  source  of  the  remotely  familiar 
sounds.  There  was  a  new  note  in  his  mate's  warn- 
ing snarl.  It  was  a  jealous  note,  and  he  was  very 
careful  in  keeping  a  respectful  distance.  Neverthe- 
less, he  made  out,  sheltering  between  her  legs  against 
the  length  of  her  body,  five  strange  little  bundles  of 
life,  very  feeble,  very  helpless,  making  tiny  whimper- 
ing noises,  with  eyes  that  did  not  open  to  the  light. 
He  was  surprised.  It  was  not  the  first  time  in  his 
long  and  successful  life  that  this  thing  had  happened. 
It  had  happened  many  times,  yet  each  time  it  was  as 
fresh  a  surprise  as  ever  to  him. 

His  mate  looked  at  him  anxiously.  Every  little 
while  she  emitted  a  low  growl,  and  at  times,  when 
it  seemed  to  her  he  approached  too  near,  the  growl 
shot  up  in  her  throat  to  a  sharp  snarl.  Of  her  own 
experience  she  had  no  memory  of  the  thing  happen- 
ing ;  but  in  her  instinct,  which  was  the  experience 
of  all  the  mothers  of  wolves,  there  lurked  a  memory 
of  fathers  that  had  eaten  their  new-born  and  helpless 
progeny.  It  manifested  itself  as  a  fear  strong  within 
her,  that  made  her  prevent  One  Eye  from  more  closely 
inspecting  the  cubs  he  had  fathered. 


THE   LAIR  69 

But  there  was  no  danger.  Old  One  Eye  was  feel- 
ing the  urge  of  an  impulse,  that  was,  in  turn,  an 
instinct  that  had  come  down  to  him  from  all  the 
fathers  of  wolves.  He  did  not  question  it,  nor  puzzle 
over  it.  It  was  there,  in  the  fibre  of  his  being ;  and 
it  was  the  most  natural  thing  in  the  world  that  he 
should  obey  it  by  turning  his  back  on  his  new-born 
family  and  by  trotting  out  and  away  on  the  meat- 
trail  whereby  he  lived. 

Five  or  six  miles  from  the  lair,  the  stream  divided, 
its  forks  going  off  among  the  mountains  at  a  right 
angle.  Here,  leading  up  the  left  fork,  he  came  upon 
a  fresh  track.  He  smelled  it  and  found  it  so  recent 
that  he  crouched  swiftly,  and  looked  in  the  direction 
in  which  it  disappeared.  Then  he  turned  deliberately 
and  took  the  right  fork.  The  footprint  was  much 
larger  than  the  one  his  own  feet  made,  and  he  knew 
that  in  the  wake  of  such  a  trail  there  was  little  meat 
for  him. 

Half  a  mile  up  the  right  fork,  his  quick  ears  caught 
the  sound  of  gnawing  teeth.  He  stalked  the  quarry 
and  found  it  to  be  a  porcupine,  standing  upright 
against  a  tree  and  trying  his  teeth  on  the  bark.  One 
Eye  approached  carefully  but  hopelessly.  He  knew 
the  breed,  though  he  had  never  met  it  so  far  north 
before  ;  and  never  in  his  long  life  had  porcupine  served 
him  for  a  meal.  But  he  had  long  since  learned  that 
there  was  such  a  thing  as  Chance,  or  Opportunity, 


70  WHITE   FANG 

and  he  continued  to  draw  near.  There  was  never 
any  telling  what  might  happen,  for  with  live  things 
events  were  somehow  always  happening  differently. 

The  porcupine  rolled  itself  into  a  ball,  radiating 
long,  sharp  needles  in  all  directions  that  defied  attack. 
In  his  youth  One  Eye  had  once  sniffed  too  near  a 
similar,  apparently  inert  ball  of  quills,  and  had  the 
tail  flick  out  suddenly  in  his  face.  One  quill  he  had 
carried  away  in  his  muzzle,  where  it  had  remained 
for  weeks,  a  rankling  flame,  until  it  finally  worked 
out.  So  he  lay  down,  in  a  comfortable  crouching 
position,  his  nose  fully  a  foot  away,  and  out  of  the 
line  of  the  tail.  Thus  he  waited,  keeping  perfectly 
quiet.  There  was  no  telling.  Something  might 
happen.  The  porcupine  might  unroll.  There  might 
be  opportunity  for  a  deft  and  ripping  thrust  of  paw 
into  the  tender,  unguarded  belly. 

But  at  the  end  of  half  an  hour  he  arose,  growled 
wrathfully  at  the  motionless  ball,  and  trotted  on. 
He  had  waited  too  often  and  futilely  in  the  past  for 
porcupines  to  unroll,  to  waste  any  more  time.  He 
continued  up  the  right  fork.  The  day  wore  along, 
and  nothing  rewarded  his  hunt. 

The  urge  of  his  awakened  instinct  of  fatherhood 
was  strong  upon  him.  He  must  find  meat.  In  the 
afternoon  he  blundered  upon  a  ptarmigan.  He  came 
out  of  a  thicket  and  found  himself  face  to  face  with 
the  slow-witted  bird.     It  was  sitting  on  a  log,  not 


THE   LAIR  71 

a  foot  beyond  the  end  of  his  nose.  Each  saw  the 
other.  The  bird  made  a  startled  rise,  but  he  struck 
it  with  his  paw,  and  smashed  it  down  to  earth, 
then  pounced  upon  it,  and  caught  it  in  his  teeth  as 
it  scuttled  across  the  snow  trying  to  rise  in  the  air 
again.  As  his  teeth  crunched  through  the  tender  flesh 
and  fragile  bones,  he  began  naturally  to  eat.  Then 
he  remembered,  and,  turning  on  the  back- track,  started 
for  home,  carrying  the  ptarmigan  in  his  mouth. 

A  mile  above  the  forks,  running  velvet-footed  as 
was  his  custom,  a  gliding  shadow  that  cautiously 
prospected  each  new  vista  of  the  trail,  he  came  upon 
later  imprints  of  the  large  tracks  he  had  discovered 
in  the  early  morning.  As  the  track  led  his  way,  he 
followed,  prepared  to  meet  the  maker  of  it  at  every 
turn  of  the  stream. 

He  slid  his  head  around  a  corner  of  rock,  where 
began  an  unusually  large  bend  in  the  stream,  and  his 
quick  eyes  made  out  something  that  sent  him  crouch- 
ing swiftly  down.  It  was  the  maker  of  the  track, 
a  large  female  lynx.  She  was  crouching  as  he  had 
crouched  once  that  day,  in  front  of  her  the  tight-rolled 
ball  of  quills.  If  he  had  been  a  gliding  shadow 
before,  he  now  became  the  ghost  of  such  a  shadow, 
as  he  crept  and  circled  around,  and  came  up  well  to 
leeward  of  the  silent,  motionless  pair. 

He  lay  down  in  the  snow,  depositing  the  ptarmigan 
beside  him,  and  with  eyes  peering  through  the  needles 


72  WHITE   FANG 

of  a  low-growing  spruce  he  watched  the  play  of  life 
before  him  —  the  waiting  lynx  and  the  waiting  porcu- 
pine, each  intent  on  life ;  and,  such  was  the  curious- 
ness  of  the  game,  the  way  of  life  for  one  lay  in  the 
eating  of  the  other,  and  the  way  of  life  for  the  other 
lay  in  being  not  eaten.  While  old  One  Eye,  the 
wolf,  crouching  in  the  covert,  played  his  part,  too, 
in  the  game,  waiting  for  some  strange  freak  of  Chance, 
that  might  help  him  on  the  meat-trail  which  was  his 
way  of  life. 

Half  an  hour  passed,  an  hour  ;  and  nothing  hap- 
pened. The  ball  of  quills  might  have  been  a  stone 
for  all  it  moved ;  the  lynx  might  have  been  frozen  to 
marble  ;  and  old  One  Eye  might  have  been  dead. 
Yet  all  three  animals  were  keyed  to  a  tenseness  of 
living  that  was  almost  painful,  and  scarcely  ever 
would  it  come  to  them  to  be  more  alive  than  they 
were  then  in  their  seeming  petrifaction. 

One  Eye  moved  slightly  and  peered  forth  with  in- 
creased eagerness.  Something  was  happening.  The 
porcupine  had  at  last  decided  that  its  enemy  had 
gone  away.  Slowly,  cautiously,  it  was  unrolling  its 
ball  of  impregnable  armor.  It  was  agitated  by  no 
tremor  of  anticipation.  Slowly,  slowly,  the  bristling 
ball  straightened  out  and  lengthened.  One  Eye, 
watching,  felt  a  sudden  moistness  in  his  mouth  and  a 
drooling  of  saliva,  involuntary,  excited  by  the  living 
meat  that  was  spreading  itself  like  a  repast  before  him. 


"  He  watched  the  play  of  life  before  him." 


THE   LAIR  73 

Not  quite  entirely  had  the  porcupine  unrolled  when 
it  discovered  its  enemy.  In  that  instant  the  lynx 
struck.  The  blow  was  like  a  flash  of  light.  The 
paw,  with  rigid  claws  curving  like  talons,  shot  under 
the  tender  belly  and  came  back  with  a  swift  ripping 
movement.  Had  the  porcupine  been  entirely  unrolled, 
or  had  it  not  discovered  its  enemy  a  fraction  of  a 
second  before  the  blow  was  struck,  the  paw  would 
have  escaped  unscathed ;  but  a  side-flick  of  the  tail 
sank  sharp  quills  into  it  as  it  was  withdrawn. 

Everything  had  happened  at  once,  —  the  blow,  the 
counter-blow,  the  squeal  of  agony  from  the  porcupine, 
the  big  cat's  squall  of  sudden  hurt  and  astonishment. 
One  Eye  half  arose  in  his  excitement,  his  ears  up,  his 
tail  straight  out  and  quivering  behind  him.  The 
lynx's  bad  temper  got  the  best  of  her.  She  sprang 
savagely  at  the  thing  that  had  hurt  her.  But  the 
porcupine,  squealing  and  grunting,  with  disrupted 
anatomy  trying  feebly  to  roll  up  into  its  ball-protec- 
tion, flicked  out  its  tail  again,  and  again  the  big  cat 
squalled  with  hurt  and  astonishment.  Then  she  fell 
to  backing  away  and  sneezing,  her  nose  bristling  with 
quills  like  a  monstrous  pin-cushion.  She  brushed  her 
nose  with  her  paws,  trying  to  dislodge  the  fiery  darts, 
thrust  it  into  the  snow,  and  rubbed  it  against  twigs 
and  branches,  all  the  time  leaping  about,  ahead, 
sidewise,  up  and  down,  in  a  frenzy  of  pain  and 
fright. 


74  WHITE   FANG 

She  sneezed  continually,  and  her  stub  of  a  tail  was 
doing  its  best  toward  lashing  about  by  giving  quick, 
violent  jerks.  She  quit  her  antics,  and  quieted  down 
for  a  long  minute.  One  Eye  watched.  And  even  he 
could  not  repress  a  start  and  an  involuntary  bristling 
of  hair  along  his  back  when  she  suddenly  leaped, 
without  warning,  straight  up  in  the  air,  at  the  same 
time  emitting  a  long  and  most  terrible  squall.  Then 
she  sprang  away,  up  the  trail,  squalling  with  every 
leap  she  made. 

It  was  not  until  her  racket  had  faded  aw^ay  in  the 
distance  and  died  out.  that  One  E^^e  ventured  forth. 
He  walked  as  delicately  as  though  all  the  snow  were 
carpeted  with  porcupine  quills,  erect  and  ready  to 
pierce  the  soft  pads  of  his  feet.  The  porcupine  met 
his  approach  with  a  furious  squealing  and  a  clashing  of 
its  long  teeth.  It  had  managed  to  roll  up  in  a  ball 
again,  but  it  was  not  quite  the  old  compact  ball ;  its 
muscles  were  too  much  torn  for  that.  It  had  been 
ripped  almost  in  half,  and  was  still  bleeding  pro- 
fusely. 

One  Eye  scooped  out  mouthfuls  of  the  blood-soaked 
snow,  and  chewed  and  tasted  and  swallowed.  This 
served  as  a  relish,  and  his  hunger  increased  mightily ; 
but  he  was  too  old  in  the  world  to  forget  his  cau- 
tion. He  waited.  He  lay  down  and  waited,  while 
the  porcupine  grated  its  teeth  and  uttered  grunts  and 
sobs  and  occasional  sharp  little  squeals.     In  a  little 


THE   LAIR  75 

while,  One  Eye  noticed  that  the  quills  were  drooping 
and  that  a  great  quivering  had  set  up.  The  quivering 
came  to  an  end  suddenly.  There  was  a  final  defiant 
clash  of  the  long  teeth.  Then  all  the  quills  drooped 
quite  down,  and  the  body  relaxed  and  moved  no  more. 

With  a  nervous,  shrinking  paw.  One  Eye  stretched 
out  the  porcupine  to  its  full  length  and  turned  it  over 
on  its  back.  Nothing  had  happened.  It  was  surely 
dead.  He  studied  it  intently  for  a  moment,  then 
took  a  careful  grip  with  his  teeth  and  started  off 
down  the  stream,  partly  carrying,  partly  dragging  the 
porcupine,  with  head  turned  to  the  side  so  as  to  avoid 
stepping  on  the  prickly  mass.  He  recollected  some- 
thing, dropped  the  burden,  and  trotted  back  to  where 
he  had  left  the  ptarmigan.  He  did  not  hesitate  a 
moment.  He  knew  clearly  what  was  to  be  done,  and 
this  he  did  by  promptly  eating  the  ptarmigan.  Then 
he  returned  and  took  up  his  burden. 

When  he  dragged  the  result  of  his  day's  hunt  into 
the  cave,  the  she-wolf  inspected  it,  turned  her  muzzle 
to  him,  and  lightly  licked  him  on  the  neck.  But  the 
next  instant  she  was  warning  him  away  from  the 
cubs  with  a  snarl  that  was  less  harsh  than  usual  and 
that  was  more  apologetic  than  menacing.  Her  in- 
stinctive fear  of  the  father  of  her  progeny  was  toning 
down.  He  was  behaving  as  a  wolf  father  should,  and 
manifesting  no  unholy  desire  to  devour  the  young 
lives  she  had  brought  into  the  world. 


CHAPTER   III 


THE    GRAY    CUB 


He  was  different  from  his  brothers  and  sisters. 
Their  hair  ah'eady  betrayed  the  reddish  hue  inherited 
from  their  mother,  the  she-wolf ;  while  he  alone,  in 
this  particular,  took  after  his  father.  He  was  the 
one  little  gray  cub  of  the  litter.  He  had  bred  true 
to  the  straight  wolf-stock  —  in  fact,  he  had  bred  true, 
physically,  to  old  One  Eye  himself,  with  but  a  single 
exception,  and  that  was  that  he  had  two  eyes  to  his 
father's  one. 

The  gray  cub's  eyes  had  not  been  open  long,  yet 
already  he  could  see  with  steady  clearness.  And 
while  his  eyes  were  still  closed,  he  had  felt,  tasted, 
and  smelled.  He  knew  his  two  brothers  and  his  two 
sisters  very  well.  He  had  begun  to  romp  with  them 
in  a  feeble,  awkward  way,  and  even  to  squabble,  his 
little  throat  vibrating  with  a  queer  rasping  noise, 
(the  forerunner  of  the  growl),  as  he  worked  himself 
into  a  passion.  And  long  before  his  eyes  had  opened, 
he  had  learned  by  touch,  taste,  and  smell  to  know 
his  mother  —  a  fount  of  warmth  and  liquid  food  and 


THE   GRAY   CUB  77 

tenderness.  She  possessed  a  gentle,  caressing  tongue 
that  soothed  him  when  it  passed  over  his  soft  little 
body,  and  that  impelled  him  to  snuggle  close  against 
her  and  to  doze  off  to  sleep. 

Most  of  the  first  month  of  his  life  had  been  passed 
thus  in  sleeping ;  but  now  he  could  see  quite  well, 
and  he  stayed  awake  for  longer  periods  of  time,  and 
he  was  coming  to  learn  his  world  quite  well.  His 
world  was  gloomy ;  but  he  did  not  know  that,  for  he 
knew  no  other  world.  It  was  dim-lighted ;  but  his 
eyes  had  never  had  to  adjust  themselves  to  any  other 
light.  His  world  was  very  small.  Its  limits  were 
the  walls  of  the  lair ;  but  as  he  had  no  knowledge 
of  the  wide  world  outside,  he  was  never  oppressed  by 
the  narrow  confines  of  his  existence. 

But  he  had  early  discovered  that  one  wall  of  his 
world  was  different  from  the  rest.  This  was  the 
mouth  of  the  cave  and  the  source  "of  light.  He  had 
discovered  that  it  was  different  from  the  other  walls 
long  before  he  had  any  thoughts  of  his  own,  any  con- 
scious volitions.  It  had  been  an  irresistible  attrac- 
tion before  ever  his  eyes  opened  and  looked  upon 
it.  The  light  from  it  had  beat  upon  his  sealed 
lids,  and  the  eyes  and  the  optic  nerves  had  pulsated 
to  little,  sparklike  flashes,  warm-colored  and  strangely 
pleasing.  The  life  of  his  body,  and  of  every  fibre 
of  his  body,  the  life  that  was  the  very  substance  of 
his  body  and  that  was  apart  from  his  own  personal 


78  WHITE   FANG 

life,  had  yearned  toward  this  light  and  urged  his  body 
toward  it  in  the  same  way  that  the  cunning  chemis- 
try of  a  plant  urges  it  toward  the  sun. 

Always,  in  the  beginning,  before  his  conscious  life 
dawned,  he  had  crawled  toward  the  mouth  of  the 
cave.  And  in  this  his  brothers  and  sisters  were  one 
with  him.  Never,  in  that  period,  did  any  of  them 
crawl  toward  the  dark  corners  of  the  back-wall. 
The  light  drew  them  as  if  they  were  plants ;  the 
chemistry  of  the  life  that  composed  them  demanded 
the  light  as  a  necessity  of  being ;  and  their  little 
puppet-bodies  crawled  blindly  and  chemically,  like 
the  tendrils  of  a  vine.  Later  on,  when  each  devel- 
oped individuality  and  became  personally  conscious 
of  impulsions  and  desires,  the  attraction  of  the  light 
increased.  They  were  always  crawling  and  sprawl- 
ing toward  it,  and  being  driven  back  from  it  by  their 
mother. 

It  was  in  this  way  that  the  gray  cub  learned  other 
attributes  of  his  mother  than  the  soft,  sootliing 
tongue.  In  his  insistent  crawling  toward  the  light, 
he  discovered  in  her  a  nose  that  with  a  sharp  nudge 
administered  rebuke,  and  later,  a  paw,  that  crushed 
him  down  or  rolled  him  over  and  over  with  swift, 
calculating  stroke.  Thus  he  learned  hurt ;  and 
on  top  of  it  he  learned  to  avoid  hurt,  first,  by  not 
incurring  the  risk  of  it ;  and  second,  when  he  had 
incurred    the    risk,    by    dodging    and    by    i-etreating. 


THE   GRAY   CUB  79 

These  were  conscious  actions,  and  were  the  results  of 
his  first  generalizations  upon  the  world.  Before  that 
he  had  recoiled  automatically  from  hurt,  as  he  had 
crawled  automatically  toward  the  light.  After  that 
he  recoiled  from  hurt  because  he  Icnew  that  it  was  hurt. 

He  was  a  fierce  little  cub.  So  were  his  brothers 
and  sisters.  It  was  to  be  expected.  He  was  a  car- 
nivorous animaL  He  came  of  a  breed  of  meat-killers 
and  meat-eaters.  His  father  and  mother  lived  wholly 
upon  meat.  The  milk  he  had  sucked  with  his  first 
flickering  life  was  milk  transformed  directly  from 
meat,  and  now,  at  a  month  old,  when  his  eyes  had 
been  open  for  but  a  week,  he  was  beginning  himself 
to  eat  meat  —  meat  half-digested  by  the  she-wolf  and 
disgorged  for  the  five  growing  cubs  that  already 
made  too  great  demand  upon  her  breast. 

But  he  was,  further,  the  fiercest  of  the  litter.  He 
could  make  a  louder  rasping  growl  than  any  of  them. 
His  tiny  rages  were  much  more  terrible  than  theirs.  It 
was  he  that  first  learned  the  trick  of  rolling  a  fellow- 
cub  over  with  a  cunning  paw-stroke.  And  it  was  he 
that  first  gripped  another  cub  by  the  ear  and  pulled 
and  tugged  and  growled  through  jaws  tight-clenched. 
And  certainly  it  was  he  that  caused  the  mother  the 
most  trouble  in  keeping  her  litter  from  the  mouth  of 
the  cave. 

The  fascination  of  the  light  for  the  gray  cub 
increased    from    day    to    day.     He    was   perpetually 


80  WHITE   FANG 

departing  on  yard-long  adventures  toward  the  cave's 
entrance,  and  as  jDerpetually  being  driven  back.  Only 
he  did  not  know  it  for  an  entrance.  He  did  not 
know  anything  about  entrances  —  passages  whereby 
one  goes  from  one  place  to  another  place.  He  did 
not  know  any  other  place,  much  less  of  a  way  to  get 
there.  So  to  him  tlie  entrance  of  the  cave  was  a  wall 
—  a  wall  of  light.  As  the  sun  was  to  the  outside 
dweller,  this  wall  was  to  him  the  sun  of  his  world. 
It  attracted  him  as  a  candle  attracts  a  moth.  He 
was  always  striving  to  attain  it.  The  life  that  was 
so  swiftly  expanding  within  him,  urged  him  continu- 
ally toward  the  wall  of  light.  The  life  that  w^as 
within  him  knew  that  it  was  the  one  way  out,  the 
way  he  w^as  predestined  to  tread.  But  he  himself 
did  not  know  anything  about  it.  He  did  not  know 
there  was  any  outside  at  all. 

There  was  one  strange  thing  about  this  wall  of 
light.  His  father  (he  had  already  come  to  recognize  his 
father  as  the  one  other  dweller  in  the  world,  a  creature 
like  his  mother,  who  slept  near  the  light  and  was  a 
bringer  of  meat)  —  his  father  had  a  w^ay  of  walking 
right  into  the  white  far  wall  and  disappearing.  The 
gray  cub  could  not  understand  this.  Though  never 
permitted  by  his  mother  to  approach  that  wall,  he  had 
approached  the  other  walls,  and  encountered  hard 
obstruction  on  the  end  of  his  tender  nose.  This  hurt. 
And  after  several  such  adventures,  he  left  the  walls 


THE    GRAY   CUB  81 

alone.  Without  thinking  about  it,  he  accepted  this 
disappearing  into  the  wall  as  a  peculiarity  of  his 
father,  as  milk  and  half-digested  meat  were  pecu- 
liarities of  his  mother. 

In  fact,  the  gray  cub  was  not  given  to  thinking  — 
at  least,  to  the  kind  of  thinking  customary  of  men. 
His  brain  worked  in  dim  ways.  Yet  his  conclusions 
w^ere  as  sharp  and  distinct  as  those  achieved  by  men. 
He  had  a  method  of  accepting  things,  without  ques- 
tioning the  why  and  wherefore.  In  reality,  this  was 
the  act  of  classification.  He  was  never  disturbed 
over  why  a  thing  happened.  How  it  happened  was 
sufficient  for  him.  Thus,  when  he  had  bumped  his 
nose  on  the  back-wall  a  few  times,  he  accepted  that 
he  would  not  disappear  into  walls.  In  the  same 
way  he  accepted  that  his  father  could  disappear 
into  walls.  But  he  was  not  in  the  least  dis- 
turbed by  desire  to  find  out  the  reason  for  the 
difference  between  his  father  and  himself.  Logic 
and  physics  were  no  part  of  his  mental  make-up. 

Like  most  creatures  of  the  Wild,  he  early  experienced 
famine.  There  came  a  time  when  not  onl}^  did  the  meat- 
supply  cease,  but  the  milk  no  longer  came  from  his 
mother's  breast.  At  first,  the  cubs  whimpered  and  cried, 
but  for  the  most  part  they  slept.  It  was  not  long  before 
they  were  reduced  to  a  coma  of  hunger.  There  were 
no  more  spats  and  squabbles,  no  more  tiny  rages  nor 
attempts  at  growling ;  while  the  adventures  toward 


82  WHITE   FANG 

the  far  white  wall  ceased  altogether.  The  cubs 
slept,  while  the  life  that  was  in  them  flickered  and 
died  down. 

One  Eye  was  desperate.  He  ranged  far  and  wide, 
and  slept  but  little  in  the  lair  that  had  now  become 
cheerless  and  miserable.  The  she-wolf,  too,  left  her 
litter  and  went  out  in  search  of  meat.  In  the  first 
days  after  the  birth  of  the  cubs,  One  Eye  had  jour- 
neyed several  times  back  to  the  Indian  camp  and 
robbed  the  rabbit  snares ;  but,  with  the  melting  of 
the  snow  and  the  opening  of  the  streams,  the  Indian 
camp  had  moved  away,  and  that  source  of  supply 
was  closed  to  him. 

When  the  gray  cub  came  back  to  life  and  again 
took  interest  in  the  far  white  wall,  he  found  that 
the  population  of  his  world  had  been  reduced. 
Only  one  sister  remained  to  him.  The  rest  were 
gone.  As  he  grew  stronger,  he  found  himself  com- 
pelled to  play  alone,  for  the  sister  no  longer  lifted 
her  head  nor  moved  about.  His  little  body  rounded 
out  with  the  meat  he  now  ate  ;  but  the  food  had  come 
too  late  for  her.  She  slept  continuously,  a  tiny  skele- 
ton flung  round  with  skin  in  which  the  flame  flick- 
ered lower  and  lower  and  at  last  went  out. 

Then  there  came  a  time  when  the  gray  cub  no 
longer  saw  his  father  appearing  and  disappearing 
in  the  wall  nor  lying  down  asleep  in  the  entrance. 
This  had  happened  at  the  end  of  a  second  and  less 


THE   GRAY   CUB  83 

severe  famine.  The  she-wolf  knew  why  One  Eve 
never  came  back,  but  there  was  no  way  by  which 
she  could  tell  what  she  had  seen  to  the  gray  cub. 
Hunting  herself  for  meat,  up  the  left  fork  of  the 
stream  where  lived  the  lynx,  she  had  followed  a 
day-old  trail  of  One  Eye.  And  she  had  found  him, 
or  what  remained  of  him,  at  the  end  of  the  trail. 
There  were  many  signs  of  the  battle  that  had  been 
fought,  and  of  the  lynx's  withdrawal  to  her  lair 
after  having  won  the  victory.  Before  she  went 
away,  the  she-wolf  had  found  this  lair,  but  the 
signs  told  her  that  the  lynx  was  inside,  and  she 
had  not  dared  to  venture  in. 

After  that,  the  she-wolf  in  her  hunting  avoided  the 
left  fork.  For  she  knew  that  in  the  lynx's  lair  was  a 
litter  of  kittens,  and  she  knew  the  lynx  for  a  fierce, 
bad-tempered  creature  and  a  terrible  fighter.  It  was 
all  very  well  for  half  a  dozen  wolves  to  drive  a  lynx, 
spitting  and  bristling,  up  a  tree ;  but  it  was  quite  a 
diiferent  matter  for  a  lone  wolf  to  encounter  a  lynx 
—  especially  when  the  lynx  was  known  to  have  a  litter 
of  hungry  kittens  at  her  back. 

But  the  Wild  is  the  Wild,  and  motherhood  is 
motherhood,  at  all  times  fiercely  protective  whether 
in  the  Wild  or  out  of  it ;  and  the  time  was  to  come 
when  the  she-wolf,  for  her  gray  cub's  sake,  would 
venture  the  left  fork,  and  the  lair  in  the  rocks,  and 
the  lynx's  wrath. 


CHAPTER    IV 


THE    WALL    OF    THE    WORLD 


By  the  time  his  mother  began  leaving  the  cave  on 
hunting  expeditions,  the  cub  had  learned  well  the  law 
that  forbade  his  approaching  the  entrance.  Not 
only  had  this  law  been  forcibly  and  many  times  im- 
pressed on  him  by  his  mother's  nose  and  paw,  but  in 
him  the  instinct  of  fear  was  developing.  Never,  in 
his  brief  cave-life,  had  he  encountered  anything  of 
which  to  be  afraid.  Yet  fear  was  in  him.  It  had 
come  down  to  him  from  a  remote  ancestry  through 
a  thousand  thousand  lives.  It  was  a  heritage  he 
had  received  directly  from  One  Eye  and  the  she- 
wolf  ;  but  to  them,  in  turn,  it  had  been  passed  down 
through  all  the  generations  of  wolves  that  had  gone 
before.  Fear  I  —  that  legacy  of  the  Wild  which  no 
animal  may  escape  nor  exchange  for  pottage. 

So  the  gray  cub  knew  fear,  though  he  knew  not  the 
stuff  of  which  fear  was  made.  Possibly  he  accepted 
it  as  one  of  the  restrictions  of  life.  For  he  had 
already  learned  that  there  were  such  restrictions. 
Hunger    he    had    known ;    and    when    he    could    not 

84 


THE   WALL   OF   THE   WORLD  85 

appease  his  hunger  he  had  felt  restriction.  The 
hard  obstruction  of  the  cave-wall,  the  sharp  nudge 
of  his  mother's  nose,  the  smashing  stroke  of  her  paw, 
the  hunger  unappeased  of  several  famines,  had  borne 
in  upon  him  that  all  was  not  freedom  in  the  w^orld, 
that  to  life  there  were  limitations  and  restraints. 
These  limitations  and  restraints  were  laws.  To  be 
obedient  to  them  was  to  escape  hurt  and  make  for 
happiness. 

He  did  not  reason  the  question  out  in  this  man- 
fashion.  He  merely  classified  the  things  that  hurt 
and  the  things  that  did  not  hurt.  And  after  such 
classification  he  avoided  the  things  that  hurt,  the 
restrictions  and  restraints,  in  order  to  enjoy  the 
satisfactions  and  the  remunerations  of  life. 

Thus  it  was  that  in  obedience  to  the  law  laid 
down  by  his  mother,  and  in  obedience  to  the  law  of 
that  unknown  and  nameless  thing,  fear,  he  kept  away 
from  the  mouth  of  the  cave.  It  remained  to  him  a 
white  wall  of  light.  When  his  mother  was  absent, 
he  slept  most  of  the  time,  while  during  the  intervals 
that  he  was  awake  he  kept  very  quiet,  suppressing 
the  whimpering  cries  that  tickled  in  his  throat  and 
strove  for  noise. 

Once,  lying  awake,  he  heard  a  strange  sound  in  the 
white  wall.  He  did  not  know  that  it  was  a  wolverine, 
standing  outside,  all  a-tremble  with  its  own  daring, 
and  cautiously  scenting  out  the  contents  of  the  cave. 


86  WHITE   FANG 

The  cub  knew  only  that  the  sniff  was  strange,  a 
something  unclassified,  therefore  unknown  and  terri- 
ble —  for  the  unknown  was  one  of  the  chief  elements 
that  went  into  the  making  of  fear. 

The  hair  bristled  up  on  the  gray  cub's  back,  but  it 
bristled  silently.  How  was  he  to  know  that  this 
thing  that  sniffed  was  a  thing  at  which  to  bristle  ? 
It  was  not  born  of  any  knowledge  of  his,  yet  it  was 
the  visible  expression  of  the  fear  that  was  in  him,  and 
for  which,  in  his  own  life,  there  was  no  accounting. 
But  fear  was  accompanied  by  another  instinct  —  that 
of  concealment.  The  cub  was  in  a  frenzy  of  terror,  yet 
he  lay  without  movement  or  sound,  frozen,  petrified 
into  immobility,  to  all  appearances  dead.  His  mother, 
coming  home,  growled  as  she  smelt  the  wolverine's 
track,  and  bounded  into  the  cave  and  licked  and 
nozzled  him  with  undue  vehemence  of  affection. 
And  the  cub  felt  that  somehow  he  had  escaped  a 
great  hurt. 

But  there  were  other  forces  at  work  in  the  cub, 
the  greatest  of  which  was  growth.  Instinct  and  law 
demanded  of  him  obedience.  But  growth  demanded 
disobedience.  His  mother  and  fear  impelled  him  to 
keep  away  from  the  white  wall.  Growth  is  life, 
and  life  is  forever  destined  to  make  for  light.  So 
there  was  no  damming  up  the  tide  of  life  that  was 
rising  within  him  —  rising  with  every  mouthful 
of  meat  he  swallowed,  with  every  breath  he  drew. 


THE   WALL   OF   THE   WORLD  87 

In  the  end,  one  day,  fear  and  obedience  were  swept 
away  by  the  rush  of  life,  and  the  cub  straddled  and 
sprawled  toward  the  entrance. 

Unlike  any  other  wall  with  which  he  had  had 
experience,  this  wall  seemed  to  recede  from  him  as 
he  approached.  No  hard  surface  collided  with  the 
tender  little  nose  he  thrust  out  tentatively  before 
him.  The  substance  of  the  wall  seemed  as  permeable 
and  yielding  as  light.  And  as  condition,  in  his  eyes, 
had  the  seeming  of  form,  so  he  entered  into  what  had 
been  wall  to  him  and  bathed  in  the  substance  that 
composed  it. 

It  was  bewildering.  He  was  sprawling  through 
solidity.  And  ever  the  light  grew  brighter.  Fear 
urged  him  to  go  back,  but  growth  drove  him  on. 
Suddenly  he  found  himself  at  the  mouth  of  the  cave. 
The  wall,  inside  which  he  had  thought  himself,  as 
suddenly  leaped  back  before  him  to  an  immeasurable 
distance.  The  light  had  become  painfully  bright. 
He  was  dazzled  by  it.  Likewise  he  was  made  dizzy 
by  this  abrupt  and  tremendous  extension  of  space. 
Automatically,  his  eyes  were  adjusting  themselves 
to  the  brightness,  focussing  themselves  to  meet  the 
increased  distance  of  objects.  At  first,  the  wall  had 
leaped  beyond  his  vision.  He  now  saw  it  again  ;  but 
it  had  taken  upon  itself  a  remarkable  remoteness. 
Also,  its  appearance  had  changed.  It  was  now  a 
variegated  wall,  composed  of  the  trees  that  fringed 


88  WHITE   FANG 

the  stream,  the  opposing  mountain  that  towered 
above  the  trees,  and  the  sky  that  out-towered  the 
mountain. 

A  great  fear  came  upon  him.  This  was  more  of 
the  terrible  unknown.  He  crouched  down  on  the  lip 
of  the  cave  and  gazed  out  on  the  world.  He  was 
very  much  afraid.  Because  it  was  unknown,  it  w^as 
hostile  to  him.  Therefore  the  hair  stood  up  on  end 
along  his  back  and  his  lips  wrinkled  weakly  in  an 
attempt  at  a  ferocious  and  intimidating  snarL  Out 
of  his  puniness  and  fright  he  challenged  and  menaced 
the  whole  w4de  world. 

Nothing  happened.  He  continued  to  gaze,  and  in 
his  interest  he  forgot  to  snarl.  Also,  he  forgot  to 
be  afraid.  For  the  time,  fear  had  been  routed  by 
growth,  while  growth  had  assumed  the  guise  of 
curiosity.  He  began  to  notice  near  objects  —  an  open 
portion  of  the  stream  that  flashed  in  the  sun,  the 
blasted  pine  tree  that  stood  at  the  base  of  the  slope, 
and  the  slope  itself,  that  ran  right  up  to  him  and 
ceased  two  feet  beneath  the  lip  of  the  cave  on 
which  he  crouched. 

Now  the  gray  cub  had  lived  all  his  days  on  a  level 
floor.  He  had  never  experienced  the  hurt  of  a  fall. 
He  did  not  know  what  a  fall  was.  So  he  stepped 
boldly  out  upon  the  air.  His  hind-legs  still  rested  on 
the  cave-lip,  so  he  fell  forw^ard  head  downward.  The 
earth  struck  him  a  harsh  blow  on  the  nose  that  made 


THE   WALL   OF   THE   WORLD  89 

him  yelp.  Then  he  began  rolling  down  the  slope, 
over  and  over.  He  was  in  a  panic  of  terror.  The 
unknown  had  caught  him  at  last.  It  had  gripped 
savagely  hold  of  him  and  was  about  to  wreak 
upon  him  some  terrific  hurt.  Growth  was  now 
routed  by  fear,  and  he  ki-yi'd  like  any  frightened 
puppy. 

The  unknown  bore  him  on  he  knew  not  to  what 
frightful  hurt,  and  he  yelped  and  ki-yi'd  unceasingly. 
This  was  a  different  proposition  from  crouching  in 
frozen  fear  while  the  unknown  lurked  just  alongside. 
Now  the  unknown  had  caught  tight  hold  of  him. 
Silence  would  do  no  good.  Besides,  it  w^as  not  fear, 
but  terror,  that  convulsed  him. 

But  the  slope  grew  more  gradual,  and  its  base  was 
grass-covered.  Here  the  cub  lost  momentum.  When 
at  last  he  came  to  a  stop,  he  gave  one  last  agonized 
yelp  and  then  a  long,  whimpering  wail.  Also,  and 
quite  as  a  matter  of  course,  as  though  in  his  life  he 
had  already  made  a  thousand  toilets,  he  proceeded  to 
lick  away  the  dry  clay  that  soiled  him. 

After  that  he  sat  up  and  gazed  about  him,  as  might 
the  first  man  of  the  earth  who  landed  upon  Mars. 
The  cub  had  broken  through  the  wall  of  the  world, 
the  unknown  had  let  go  its  hold  of  him,  and  here 
he  was  without  hurt.  But  the  first  man  on  Mars 
would  have  experienced  less  unfamiliarity  than  did  he. 
Without    any    antecedent    knowledge,    without    any 


90  WHITE   FANG 

warning  whatever  that  such  existed,  he  found  himself 
an  explorer  in  a  totally  new  world. 

Now  that  the  terrible  unknown  had  let  go  of  him, 
he  forgot  that  the  unknown  had  any  terrors.  He 
was  aware  only  of  curiosity  in  all  the  things  about 
him.  He  inspected  the  grass  beneath  him,  the  moss- 
berry  plant  just  beyond,  and  the  dead  trunk  of  the 
blasted  pine  that  stood  on  the  edge  of  an  open  space 
among  the  trees.  A  squirrel,  running  around  the  base 
of  the  trunk,  came  full  upon  him,  and  gave  him  a 
great  fright.  He  cowered  down  and  snarled.  But 
the  squirrel  was  as  badly  scared.  It  ran  up  the  tree, 
and  from  a  point  of  safety  chattered  back  savagely. 

This  helped  the  cub's  courage,  and  though  the 
woodpecker  he  next  encountered  gave  him  a  start, 
he  proceeded  confidently  on  his  way.  Such  was  his 
confidence,  that  when  a  moose-bird  impudently 
hopped  up  to  him,  he  reached  out  at  it  with  a  playful 
paw.  The  result  was  a  sharp  peck  on  the  end  of  his 
nose  that  made  him  cower  down  and  ki-yL  The 
noise  he  made  was  too  much  for  the  moose-bird,  who 
sought  safety  in  flight. 

But  the  cub  was  learning.  His  misty  little  mind 
had  already  made  an  unconscious  classificationr 
There  were  live  things  and  things  not  alive.  Also, 
he  must  watch  out  for  the  live  things.  The  things 
not  alive  remained  always  in  one  place ;  but  the  live 
things  moved  about,  and  there  was  no  telling  what 


THE   WALL   OF   THE   WORLD  91 

they  might  do.  The  thing  to  expect  of  them  was 
the  unexpected,  and  for  this  he  must  be   prepared. 

He  travelled  very  clumsily.  He  ran  into  sticks 
and  things.  A  twig  that  he  thought  a  long  way  off, 
would  the  next  instant  hit  him  on  the  nose  or  rake 
along  his  ribs.  There  were  inequalities  of  surface. 
Sometimes  he  overstepped  and  stubbed  his  nose. 
Quite  as  often  he  understepped  and  stubbed  his  feet. 
Then  there  were  the  pebbles  and  stones  that  turned 
under  him  when  he  trod  upon  them  ;  and  from  them  he 
came  to  know  that  the  things  not  alive  were  not  all  in 
the  same  state  of  stable  equilibrium  as  was  his  cave ; 
also,  that  small  things  not  alive  w^ere  more  liable 
than  large  things  to  fall  down  or  turn  over.  But 
with  every  mishap  he  w^as  learning.  The  longer  he 
walked,  the  better  he  walked.  He  was  adjusting 
himself.  He  was  learning  to  calculate  his  own  mus- 
cular movements,  to  know  his  physical  limitations, 
to  measure  distances  between  objects,  and  between 
objects  and  himself. 

His  was  the  luck  of  the  beginner.  Bom  to  be  a 
hunter  of  meat,  (though  he  did  not  know  it),  he 
blundered  upon  meat  just  outside  his  own  cave-door 
on  his  first  foray  into  the  world.  It  was  by  sheer 
blundering  that  he  chanced  upon  the  shrewdly  hid- 
den ptarmigan  nest.  He  fell  into  it.  He  had  essayed 
to  walk  along  the  trunk  of  a  fallen  pine.  The  rotten 
bark  gave  way  under  his  feet,  and  with  a  despairing 


92  WHITE    FANG 

yelp  he  pitched  down  the  rounded  descent,  smashed 
through  the  leafage  and  stalks  of  a  small  bush,  and 
in  the  heart  of  the  bush,  on  the  ground,  fetched  up 
amongst  seven  ptarmigan  chicks. 

They  made  noises,  and  at  first  he  was  frightened 
at  them.  Then  he  perceived  that  they  were  very 
little,  and  he  became  bolder.  They  moved.  He 
placed  his  paw  on  one,  and  its  movements  were 
accelerated.  This  was  a  source  of  enjoyment  to  him. 
He  smelled  it.  He  picked  it  up  in  his  mouth.  It 
struggled  and  tickled  his  tongue.  At  the  same  time 
he  was  made  aware  of  a  sensation  of  hunger.  His  jaws 
closed  together.  There  was  a  crunching  of  fragile 
bones,  and  warm  blood  ran  in  his  mouth.  The  taste 
of  it  was  good.  This  was  meat,  the  same  as  his 
mother  gave  him,  only  it  was  alive  between  his  teeth 
and  therefore  better.  So  he  ate  the  ptarmigan.  Nor 
did  he  stop  till  he  had  devoured  the  whole  brood. 
Then  he  licked  his  chops  in  quite  the  same  way  his 
mother  did,  and  began  to  crawl  out  of  the  bush. 

He  encountered  a  feathered  whirlwind.  He  was 
confused  and  blinded  by  the  rush  of  it  and  the  beat 
of  angry  wings.  He  hid  his  head  between  his  paws 
and  yelped.  The  blows  increased.  The  mother- 
ptarmigan  was  in  a  fury.  Then  he  became  angry. 
He  rose  up,  snarling,  striking  out  with  his  paws.  He 
sank  his  tiny  teeth  into  one  of  tlie  wings  and  pulled 
and     tugged     sturdily.       The     ptarmigan     struggled 


THE   WALL   OF   THE   WORLD  93 

against  him,  showering  blows  upon  him  with  her 
free  wing.  It  was  his  first  battle.  He  was  elated. 
He  forgot  all  about  the  unknown.  He  no  longer  was 
afraid  of  anything.  He  w^as  fighting,  tearing  at  a 
live  thing  that  was  striking  at  him.  Also,  this  live 
thing  w^as  meat.  The  lust  to  kill  was  on  him.  He 
had  just  destroyed  little  live  things.  He  would  now 
destroy  a  big  live  thing.  He  was  too  busy  and 
happy  to  know  that  he  was  happy.  He  was  thrilling 
and  exulting  in  ways  new  to  him  and  greater  to  him 
than  any  he  had  known  before. 

He  held  on  to  the  wing  and  growled  between  his 
tight-clenched  teeth.  The  ptarmigan  dragged  him 
out  of  the  bush.  When  she  turned  and  tried  to  drag 
him  back  into  the  bush's  shelter,  he  pulled  her  away 
from  it  and  on  into  the  open.  And  all  the  time  she 
was  making  outcry  and  striking  with  her  wing,  w^hile 
feathers  were  flying  like  a  snow-fall.  The  pitch  to 
which  he  was  aroused  was  tremendous.  All  the 
fighting  blood  of  his  breed  was  up  in  him  and  sui^g- 
ing  through  him.  This  was  living,  though  he  did  not 
know  it.  He  was  realizing  his  own  meaning  in  the 
world ;  he  was  doing  that  for  which  he  was  made  — 
killing  meat  and  battling  to  kill  it.  He  was  justify- 
ing his  existence,  than  which  life  can  do  no  greater ; 
for  life  achieves  its  summit  when  it  does  to  the  utter- 
most that  which  it  was  equipped  to  do. 

After  a  time,  the  ptarmigan  ceased  her  struggling. 


94  WHITE   FANG 

He  still  held  her  by  the  wing,  and  they  lay  on  the 
ground  and  looked  at  each  other.  He  tried  to  growl 
threateningly,  ferociously.  She  pecked  on  his  nose, 
which  by  now,  what  of  previous  adventures,  was 
sore.  He  winced  but  held  on.  She  pecked  him  again 
and  again.  From  wincing  he  went  to  whimper- 
ing. He  tried  to  back  away  from  her,  oblivious  of 
the  fact  that  by  his  hold  on  her  he  dragged  her  after 
him.  A  rain  of  pecks  fell  on  his  ill-used  nose.  The 
flood  of  fight  ebbed  down  in  him,  and,  releasing  his 
prey,  he  turned  tail  and  scampered  off  across  the 
open  in  inglorious  retreat. 

He  lay  down  to  rest  on  the  other  side  of  the  open, 
near  the  edge  of  the  bushes,  his  tongue  lolling  out, 
his  chest  heaving  and  panting,  his  nose  still  hurting 
him  and  causing  him  to  continue  his  whimper.  But 
as  he  lay  there,  suddenly  there  came  to  him  a  feeling 
as  of  something  terrible  impending.  The  unknown 
with  all  its  tensors  rushed  upon  him,  and  he  shrank 
back  instinctively  into  the  shelter  of  the  bush.  As 
he  did  so,  a  draught  of  air  fanned  him,  and  a  large, 
winged  body  swept  ominously  and  silently  past.  A 
hawk,  driving  down  out  of  the  blue,  had  barely  missed 
him. 

While  he  lay  in  the  bush,  recovering  from  this 
fright  and  peering  fearfully  out,  the  mother-ptarmi- 
gan on  the  other  side  of  the  open  space  fluttered  out 
of  the  ravaged  nest.     It  was  because  of  her  loss  that 


THE   WALL   OF  THE   WORLD  95 

she  paid  no  attention  to  the  winged  bolt  of  the  sky. 
But  the  cub  saw,  and  it  was  a  warning  and  a  lesson 
to  him  —  the  swift  downward  swoop  of  the  hawk, 
the  short  skim  of  its  body  just  above  the  ground,  the 
strike  of  its  talons  in  the  body  of  the  ptarmigan, 
the  ptarmigan's  squawk  of  agony  and  fright,  and 
the  hawk's  rush  upward  into  the  blue,  carrying  the 
ptarmigan  away  with  it. 

It  was  a  long  time  before  the  cub  left  his  shelter. 
He  had  learned  much.  Live  things  were  meat.  They 
were  good  to  eat.  Also,  live  things  when  they  were 
large  enough,  could  give  hurt.  It  was  better  to  eat 
small  live  things  like  ptarmigan  chicks,  and  to  let 
alone  large  live  things  like  ptarmigan  hens.  Never- 
theless he  felt  a  little  prick  of  ambition,  a  sneaking 
desire  to  have  another  battle  with  that  ptarmigan 
hen  —  only  the  hawk  had  carried  her  away.  Maybe 
there  were  other  ptarmigan  hens.  He  would  go  and 
see. 

He  came  down  a  shelving  bank  to  the  stream.  He 
had  never  seen  water  before.  The  footing  looked 
good.  There  were  no  inequalities  of  surface.  He 
stepped  boldly  out  on  it ;  and  went  down,  crying 
with  fear,  into  the  embrace  of  the  unknown.  It  was 
cold,  and  he  gasped,  breathing  quickly.  The  water 
rushed  into  his  lungs  instead  of  the  air  that  had 
always  accompanied  his  act  of  breathing.  The  suf- 
focation he  experienced  was  like  the  pang  of  death. 


96  WHITE   FANG 

To  him  it  signified  death.  He  had  no  conscious 
knowledge  of  death,  but  like  every  animal  of  the 
Wild,  he  possessed  the  instinct  of  death.  To  him 
it  stood  as  the  greatest  of  hurts.  It  was  the  very 
essence  of  the  unknown ;  it  was  the  sum  of  the 
terrors  of  the  unknown,  the  one  culminating  and 
unthinkable  catastrophe  that  could  happen  to  him, 
about  which  he  knew  nothing  and  about  which  he 
feared  everything. 

He  came  to  the  surface,  and  the  sweet  air  rushed 
into  his  open  mouth.  He  did  not  go  down  again. 
Quite  as  though  it  had  been  a  long-established  custom 
of  his,  he  struck  out  with  all  his  legs  and  began  to 
swim.  The  near  bank  w^as  a  yard  away  ;  but  he 
had  come  up  with  his  back  to  it,  and  the  first  thing 
his  eyes  rested  upon  was  the  opposite  bank,  toward 
which  he  immediately  began  to  swim.  The  stream 
was  a  small  one,  but  in  the  pool  it  widened  out  to 
a  score  of  feet. 

Midway  in  the  passage,  the  current  picked  up  the 
cub  and  swept  him  down-stream.  He  was  caught  in 
the  miniature  rapid  at  the  bottom  of  the  pool.  Here 
was  little  chance  for  swimming.  The  quiet  water 
had  become  suddenly  angry.  Sometimes  he  was 
under,  sometimes  on  top.  At  all  times  he  was  in 
violent  motion,  now  being  turned  over  or  around,  and 
again,  being  smashed  against  a  rock.  And  with 
every  rock  he  struck,  he  yelped.      His  progress  was 


THE   WALL   OF   THE   WORLD  97 

a  series  of  yelps,  from  which  might  have  been  ad- 
duced the  number  of  rocks  he  encountered. 

Below  the  rapid  was  a  second  pool,  and  here, 
captured  by  the  eddy,  he  was  gentl}^  borne  to  the 
bank  and  as  gently  deposited  on  a  bed  of  gravel.  He 
crawled  frantically  clear  of  the  water  and  lay  down. 
He  had  learned  some  more  about  tlie  w^orld.  Water 
w^as  not  alive.  Yet  it  moved.  Also,  it  looked  as 
solid  as  the  earth,  but  was  without  any  solidity  at  all. 
His  conclusion  was  that  things  were  not  always  what 
they  appeared  to  be.  The  cub's  fear  of  the  unknown 
was  an  inherited  distrust,  and  it  had  now  been 
strengthened  by  experience.  Thenceforth,  in  the 
nature  of  things,  he  would  possess  an  abiding  distrust 
of  appearances.  He  would  have  to  learn  the  reality 
of  a  thing  before  he  could  put  his  faith  into  it. 

One  other  adventure  was  destined  for  him  that 
day.  He  had  recollected  that  there  was  such  a  thing 
in  the  world  as  his  mother.  And  then  there  came  to 
him  a  feeling  that  he  wanted  her  more  than  all  the 
rest  of  the  things  in  the  world.  Not  only  was  his 
body  tired  wnth  the  adventures  it  had  undergone,  but 
his  little  brain  was  equally  tired.  In  all  the  days  he 
had  lived  it  had  not  worked  so  hard  as  on  this  one 
day.  Furthermore,  he  was  sleepy.  So  he  started 
out  to  look  for  the  cave  and  his  mother,  feeling  at  the 
same  time  an  overwhelming  rush  of  loneliness  and 
helplessness. 


98  WHITE     FANG 

He  was  sprawling  along  between  some  bushes, 
when  he  heard  a  sharp,  intimidating  cry.  There  was 
a  flash  of  yellow  before  his  eyes.  He  saw  a  weasel 
leaping  swiftly  away  from  him.  It  was  a  small  live 
thing,  and  he  had  no  fear.  Then,  before  him,  at  his 
feet,  he  saw  an  extremely  small  live  thing,  only  sev- 
eral inches  long  —  a  young  weasel,  that,  like  himself, 
had  disobediently  gone  out  adventuring.  It  tried  to 
retreat  before  him.  He  turned  it  over  with  his  paw. 
It  made  a  queer,  grating  noise.  The  next  moment 
the  flash  of  yellow  reappeared  before  his  eyes.  He 
heard  again  the  intimidating  cry,  and  at  the  same 
instant  received  a  severe  blow  on  the  side  of  the  neck 
and  felt  the  sharp  teeth  of  the  mother-weasel  cut  into 
his  flesh. 

While  he  j^elped  and  ki-yi'd  and  scrambled  back- 
ward, he  saw  the  mother-weasel  leap  upon  her  young 
one  and  disappear  with  it  into  the  neighboring 
thicket.  The  cut  of  her  teeth  in  his  neck  still  hurt, 
but  his  feelings  were  hurt  more  grievously,  and  he 
sat  down  and  weakly  whimpered.  This  mother-wea- 
sel was  so  small  and  so  savage !  He  was  yet  to 
learn  that  for  size  and  weight  the  weasel  was  the 
most  ferocious,  vindictive,  and  terrible  of  all  the 
killers  of  the  Wild.  But  a  portion  of  this  knowledge 
was  quickly  to  be  his. 

He  was  still  whimpering  when  the  mother-weasel 
reappeared.      She  did  not    rush    him,  now  that  her 


THE  WALL  OF  THE  WORLD  99 

young  one  was  safe.  She  approached  more  cautiously, 
and  the  cub  had  full  opportunity  to  observe  her  lean, 
snakelike  body,  and  her  head,  erect,  eager,  and  snake- 
like itself.  Her  sharp,  menacing  cry  sent  the  hair 
bristling  along  his  back,  and  he  snarled  warningl}^  at 
her.  She  came  closer  and  closer.  There  was  a  leap, 
swifter  than  his  unpractised  sight,  and  the  lean, 
yellow  body  disappeared  for  a  moment  out  of  the 
field  of  his  vision.  The  next  moment  she  was  at  his 
throat,  her  teeth  buried  in  his  hair  and  flesh. 

At  first  he  snarled  and  tried  to  fight ;  but  he  was 
very  young,  and  this  was  only  his  first  day  in  the 
world,  and  his  snarl  became  a  whimper,  his  fight 
a  struggle  to  escape.  The  weasel  never  relaxed  her 
hold.  She  hung  on,  striving  to  press  down  with  her 
teeth  to  the  great  vein  where  his  life-blood  bubbled. 
The  weasel  was  a  drinker  of  blood,  and  it  w^as  ever 
her  preference  to  drink  from  the  throat  of  life  itself. 

The  gray  cub  would  have  died,  and  there  would 
have  been  no  story  to  write  about  him,  had  not  the 
she- wolf  come  bounding  through  the  bushes.  The 
weasel  let  go  the  cub  and  flashed  at  the  she-wolf's 
throat,  missing,  but  getting  a  hold  on  the  jaw  instead. 
The  she-wolf  flirted  her  head  like  the  snap  of  a  whip, 
breaking  the  weasel's  hold  and  flinging  it  high  in  the 
air.  And,  still  in  the  air,  the  she-wolf's  jaws  closed 
on  the  lean,  yellow  body,  and  the  weasel  knew  death 
between  the  crunching  teeth. 


100  WHITE   FANG 

The  cub  experienced  another  access  of  affection  on 
the  part  of  his  mother.  Her  joy  at  finding  him 
seemed  greater  even  than  his  joy  at  being  found. 
She  nozzled  him  and  caressed  him  and  licked  the  cuts 
made  in  him  by  the  weasel's  teeth.  Then,  between 
them,  mother  and  cub,  they  ate  the  blood-drinker, 
and  after  that  went  back  to  the  cave  and  slept. 


CHAPTER    V 


THE    LAW    OF    MEAT 


The  cub's  development  was  rapid.  He  rested  for 
two  days,  and  then  ventured  forth  from  the  cave 
again.  It  was  on  this  adventure  that  he  found  the 
young  weasel  whose  mother  he  had  helped  eat,  and 
he  saw  to  it  that  the  young  weasel  went  the  way  of 
its  mother.  But  on  this  trip  he  did  not  get  lost. 
When  he  grew  tired,  he  found  his  way  back  to  the 
cave  and  slept.  And  every  day  thereafter  found  him 
out  and  ranging  a  wider  area. 

He  began  to  get  an  accurate  measurement  of  his 
strength  and  his  weakness,  and  to  know  when  to  be 
bold  and  when  to  be  cautious.  He  found  it  expe- 
dient to  be  cautious  all  the  time,  except  for  the  rare 
moments,  when,  assured  of  his  own  intrepidity,  he 
abandoned  himself  to  petty  rages  and  lusts. 

He  was  always  a  little  demon  of  fury  when  he 
chanced  upon  a  stray  ptarmigan.  Never  did  he  fail 
to  respond  savagely  to  the  chatter  of  the  squirrel  he 
had  first  met  on  the  blasted  pine.  While  the  sight 
of  a  moose-bird  almost  invariably  put  him  into  the 

101 


102  WHITE   FANG 

wildest  of  rages ;  for  he  never  forgot  the  peck  on  the 
nose  he  had  received  from  the  first  of  that  ilk  he 
encountered. 

But  there  were  times  when  even  a  moose-bird 
failed  to  affect  him,  and  those  were  times  when  he 
felt  himself  to  be  in  danger  from  some  other  prowl- 
ing meat-hunter.  He  never  forgot  the  hawk,  and  its 
moving  shadow  always  sent  him  crouching  into  the 
nearest  thicket.  He  no  longer  sprawled  and  strad- 
dled, and  already  he  was  developing  the  gait  of  his 
mother,  slinking  and  furtive,  apparently  without  ex- 
ertion, yet  sliding  along  with  a  swiftness  that  was 
as  deceptive  as  it  was  imperceptible. 

In  the  matter  of  meat,  his  luck  had  been  all  in  the 
beginning.  The  seven  ptarmigan  chicks  and  the 
baby  weasel  represented  the  sum  of  his  killings.  His 
desire  to  kill  strengthened  with  the  days,  and  he 
cherished  hungry  ambitions  for  the  squirrel  that 
chattered  so  volubly  and  always  informed  all  wild 
creatures  that  the  wolf-cub  was  approaching.  But 
as  birds  fiew  in  the  air,  squirrels  could  climb  trees, 
and  the  cub  could  only  try  to  crawl  unobserved  upon 
the  squirrel  when  it  was  on  the  ground. 

The  cub  entertained  a  great  respect  for  his  mother. 
She  could  get  meat,  and  she  never  failed  to  bring  him 
his  share.  Further,  she  was  unafraid  of  things.  It 
did  not  occur  to  him  that  this  fearlessness  was 
founded  upon  experience  and  knowledge.     Its  effect 


THE   LAW   OF   MEAT  103 

on  him  was  that  of  an  impression  of  power.  His 
mother  represented  power ;  and  as  he  grew  older  he 
felt  this  power  in  the  sharper  admonition  of  her 
paw ;  while  the  reproving  nudge  of  her  nose  gave 
place  to  the  slash  of  her  fangs.  For  this,  likewise, 
he  respected  his  mother.  She  compelled  obedience 
from  him,  and  the  older  he  grew  the  shorter  grew 
her  temper. 

Famine  came  again,  and  the  cub  with  clearer  con- 
sciousness knew  once  more  the  bite  of  hunger.  The 
she-wolf  ran  herself  thin  in  the  quest  for  meat.  She 
rarely  slept  any  more  in  the  cave,  spending  most  of 
her  time  on  the  meat-trail  and  spending  it  vainly. 
This  famine  was  not  a  long  one,  but  it  was  severe 
while  it  lasted.  The  cub  found  no  more  milk  in  his 
mother's  breast,  nor  did  he  get  one  mouthful  of  meat 
for  himself. 

Before,  he  had  hunted  in  play,  for  the  sheer  joyous- 
ness  of  it ;  now  he  hunted  in  deadly  earnestness,  and 
found  nothing.  Yet  the  failure  of  it  accelerated  his 
development.  He  studied  the  habits  of  the  squirrel 
with  greater  carefulness,  and  strove  with  greater 
craft  to  steal  upon  it  and  surprise  it.  He  studied 
the  wood-mice  and  tried  to  dig  them  out  of  their 
burrows ;  and  he  learned  much  about  the  ways  of 
moose-birds  and  woodpeckers.  And  there  came  a 
day  when  the  hawk's  shadow  did  not  drive  him 
crouching  into  the  bushes.     He  had  grown  stronger, 


104  WHITE   FANG 

and  wiser,  and  more  confident.  Also,  he  was  des- 
perate. So  he  sat  on  his  haunches,  conspicuously, 
in  an  open  space,  and  challenged  the  hawk  down  out 
of  the  sky.  For  he  knew  that  there,  floating  in  the 
blue  above  him,  was  meat,  the  meat  his  stomach 
yearned  after  so  insistently.  But  the  hawk  refused 
to  come  down  and  give  battle,  and  the  cub  crawled 
away  into  a  thicket  and  whimpered  his  disappoint- 
ment and  hunger. 

The  famine  broke.  The  she-wolf  brought  home 
meat.  It  was  strange  meat,  different  from  any  she 
had  ever  brought  before.  It  was  a  lynx  kitten,  partly 
grown,  like  the  cub,  but  not  so  large.  And  it  was  all 
for  him.  His  mother  had  satisfied  her  hunger  else- 
where ;  though  he  did  not  know  that  it  was  the  rest 
of  the  lynx  litter  that  had  gone  to  satisfy  her.  Nor 
did  he  know  the  desperateness  of  her  deed.  He  knew 
onl}^  that  the  velvet-furred  kitten  was  meat,  and  he 
ate  and  waxed  happier  with  every  mouthful. 

A  full  stomach  conduces  to  inaction,  and  the  cub 
lay  in  the  cave,  sleeping  against  his  mother's  side. 
He  was  aroused  by  her  snarling.  Never  had  he 
heard  her  snarl  so  terribly.  Possibly  in  her  whole 
life  it  was  the  most  terrible  snarl  she  ever  gave. 
There  was  reason  for  it,  and  none  knew  it  better 
than  she.  A  lynx's  lair  is  not  despoiled  with  im- 
punity. In  the  full  glare  of  the  afternoon  light, 
crouching  in  the  entrance  of  the  cave,  the  cub  saw 


THE   LAW   OF   MEAT  105 

the  lynx-mother.  The  hair  rippled  up  all  along  his 
back  at  the  sight.  Here  was  fear,  and  it  did  not  re- 
quire his  instinct  to  tell  him  of  it.  And  if  sight 
alone  were  not  sufficient,  the  cry  of  rage  the  intruder 
gave,  beginning  with  a  snarl  and  rushing  abruptly 
upward  into  a  hoarse  screech,  was  convincing  enough 
in  itself. 

The  cub  felt  the  prod  of  the  life  that  was  in  him, 
and  stood  up  and  snarled  valiantly  by  his  mother's 
side.  But  she  thrust  him  ignominiously  away  and 
behind  her.  Because  of  the  low-roofed  entrance  the 
lynx  could  not  leap  in,  and  when  she  made  a  crawl- 
ing rush  of  it  the  she-wolf  sprang  upon  her  and 
pinned  her  down.  The  cub  saw  little  of  the  battle. 
There  was  a  tremendous  snarling  and  spitting  and 
screeching.  The  two  animals  threshed  about,  the 
lynx  ripping  and  tearing  with  her  claws  and  using 
her  teeth  as  well,  while  the  she-wolf  used  her  teeth 
alone. 

Once,  the  cub  sprang  in  and  sank  his  teeth  into 
the  hind  leg  of  the  lynx.  He  clung  on,  growling 
savagely.  Though  he  did  not  know  it,  by  the  weight 
of  his  body  he  clogged  the  action  of  the  leg  and 
thereby  saved  his  mother  much  damage.  A  change 
in  the  battle  crushed  him  under  both  their  bodies 
and  wrenched  loose  his  hold.  The  next  moment  the 
two  mothers  separated,  and,  before  they  rushed  to- 
gether again,  the  lynx  lashed  out  at  the  cub  with  a 


106  WHITE   FANG 

huge  fore-paw  that  ripped  his  shoulder  open  to  the 
bone  and  sent  him  hurtling  sidewise  against  the  wall. 
Then  was  added  to  the  uproar  the  cub's  shrill  yelp 
of  pain  and  fright.  But  the  fight  lasted  so  long  that 
he  had  time  to  cry  himself  out  and  to  experience  a 
second  burst  of  courage ;  and  the  end  of  the  battle 
found  him  again  clinging  to  a  hind-leg  and  furiously 
growling  between  his  teeth. 

The  lynx  was  dead.  But  the  she-wolf  was  very 
weak  and  sick.  At  first  she  caressed  the  cub  and 
licked  his  wounded  shoulder ;  but  the  blood  she  had 
lost  had  taken  with  it  her  strength,  and  for  all  of  a 
day  and  a  night  she  lay  by  her  dead  foe's  side,  with- 
out movement,  scarcely  breathing.  For  a  week  she 
never  left  the  cave,  except  for  w^ater,  and  then  her 
movements  were  slow  and  painful.  At  the  end  of 
that  time  the  lynx  was  devoured,  while  the  she-w^olf's 
wounds  had  healed  sufficiently  to  permit  her  to  take 
the  meat-trail  again. 

The  cub's  shoulder  was  stiff  and  sore,  and  for  some 
time  he  limped  from  the  terrible  slash  he  had  re- 
ceived. But  the  world  now  seemed  changed.  He 
went  about  in  it  with  greater  confidence,  with  a  feel- 
ing of  prowess  that  had  not  been  his  in  the  days 
before  the  battle  with  the  lynx.  He  had  looked  upon 
life  in  a  more  ferocious  aspect ;  he  had  fought ;  he 
had  buried  his  teeth  in  the  flesh  of  a  foe ;  and  he  had 
survived.     And  because  of  all  this,  he  carried  himself 


THE  LAW   OF   MEAT  107 

more  boldly,  with  a  touch  of  defiance  that  was  new 
in  him.  He  was  no  longer  afraid  of  minor  things, 
and  much  of  his  timidity  had  vanished,  though  the 
unknown  never  ceased  to  press  upon  him  with  its 
mysteries  and  terrors,  intangible  and  ever-menacing. 

He  began  to  accompany  his  mother  on  the  meat- 
trail,  and  he  saw"  much  of  the  killing  of  meat  and 
began  to  play  his  part  in  it.  And  in  his  own  dim 
way  he  learned  the  law  of  meat.  There  were  two 
kinds  of  life,  —  his  ow^n  kind  and  the  other  kind.  His 
own  kind  included  his  mother  and  himself.  The  other 
kind  included  all  live  things  that  moved.  But  the 
other  kind  was  divided.  One  portion  was  what  his 
own  kind  killed  and  ate.  This  portion  was  composed 
of  the  non-killers  and  the  small  killers.  The  other 
portion  killed  and  ate  his  own  kind,  or  was  killed  and 
eaten  by  his  own  kind.  And  out  of  this  classification 
arose  the  law.  The  aim  of  life  was  meat.  Life  itself 
was  meat.  Life  lived  on  life.  There  were  the  eaters 
and  the  eaten.  The  law  was  :  EAT  OR  BE  EATEN. 
He  did  not  formulate  the  law  in  clear,  set  terms  and 
moralize  about  it.  He  did  not  even  think  the  law  ;  he 
merely  lived  the  law  without  thinking  about  it  at  all. 

He  saw  the  law  operating  around  him  on  every 
side.  He  had  eaten  the  ptarmigan  chicks.  The  hawk 
had  eaten  the  ptarmigan-mother.  The  hawk  would 
also  have  eaten  him.  Later,  when  he  had  grown 
more  formidable,  he  wanted  to  eat  the  hawk.      He 


108  WHITE   FANG 

had  eaten  the  lynx  kitten.  The  lynx-mother  would 
have  eaten  him  had  she  not  herself  been  killed  and 
eaten.  And  so  it  went.  The  law  was  being  lived 
about  him  by  all  live  things,  and  he  himself  was  part 
and  parcel  of  the  law.  He  was  a  killer.  His  only 
food  was  meat,  live  meat,  that  ran  away  swiftly 
before  him,  or  flew  into  the  air,  or  climbed  trees,  or 
hid  in  the  ground,  or  faced  him  and  fought  with  him, 
or  turned  the  tables  and  ran  after  him. 

Had  the  cub  thought  in  man-fashion,  he  might  have 
epitomized  life  as  a  voracious  appetite,  and  the  world 
as  a  place  wherein  ranged  a  multitude  of  appetites, 
pursuing  and  being  pursued,  hunting  and  being 
hunted,  eating  and  being  eaten,  all  in  blindness 
and  confusion,  with  violence  and  disorder,  a  chaos  of 
gluttony  and  slaughter,  ruled  over  by  chance,  merci- 
less, planless,  endless. 

But  the  cub  did  not  think  in  man-fashion.  He  did 
not  look  at  things  with  wide  vision.  He  was  single- 
purposed,  and  entertained  but  one  thought  or  desire 
at  a  time.  Besides  the  law  of  meat,  there  was  a 
myriad  other  and  lesser  laws  for  him  to  learn  and 
obey.  The  world  was  filled  with  surprise.  The  stir 
of  the  life  that  was  in  him,  the  play  of  his  muscles, 
was  an  unending  happiness.  To  run  down  meat  was 
to  experience  thrills  and  elations.  His  rages  and 
battles  were  pleasures.  Terror  itself,  and  the  mys- 
tery of  the  unknown,  lent  to  his  living. 


THE   LAW    OF    MEAT  109 

And  there  were  easements  and  satisfactions.  To 
have  a  full  stomach,  to  doze  lazily  in  the  sunshine  — 
such  things  were  remuneration  in  full  for  his  ardors 
and  toils,  while  his  ardors  and  toils  were  in  them- 
selves self-remunerative.  They  were  expressions  of 
life,  and  life  is  always  happy  when  it  is  expressing 
itself.  So  the  cub  had  no  quarrel  with  his  hostile 
environment.  He  was  very  much  alive,  very  happy, 
and  very  proud  of  himself. 


PAET   THREE 
THE   GODS   OF  THE   WILD 


Chapter  I 
Chapter  II 
Chapter  III 
Chapter  IV 
Chapter  V 
Chapter  VI 


The  Makers  of  Fire 

The  Bondage 

The  Outcast 

The  Trail  of  the  Gods 

The  Covenant 

The  Famine 


i>%- 

i{:- 


CHAPTER    I 


THE    MAKERS    OF    FIRE 


The  cub  came  upon  it  suddenly.  It  was  his  own 
fault.  He  had  been  careless.  He  had  left  the  cave 
and  run  down  to  the  stream  to  drink.  It  might 
have  been  that  he  took  no  notice  because  he  was 
heavy  with  sleep.  (He  had  been  out  all  night  on 
the  meat-trail,  and  had  but  just  then  awakened). 
And  his  carelessness  might  have  been  due  to  the 
familiarity  of  the  trail  to  the  pool.  He  had  travelled 
it  often,  and  nothing  had  ever  happened  on  it. 

He  went  down  past  the  blasted  pine,  crossed  the 
open  space,  and  trotted  in  amongst  the  trees.  Then, 
at  the  same  instant,  he  saw  and  smelt.  Before  him, 
sitting  silently  on  their  haunches,  were  five  live  things, 
the  like  of  which  he  had  never  seen  before.  It  was 
his  first  glimpse  of  mankind.  But  at  the  sight  of 
him  the  five  men  did  not  spring  to  their  feet,  nor 
show  their  teeth,  nor  snarl.  They  did  not  move, 
but  sat  there,  silent  and   ominous. 

Nor  did  the  cub  move.  Ever}^  instinct  of  his 
nature    would    have    impelled    him    to    dash    wildly 

I  113 


114  WHITE   FANG 

away,  had  there  not  suddenly  and  for  the  first  time 
arisen  in  him  another  and  counter  instinct.  A  great 
awe  descended  upon  him.  He  was  beaten  down  to 
movelessness  by  an  overwhelming  sense  of  his  own 
weakness  and  littleness.  Here  was  mastery  and 
power,  something  far  and  away  beyond  him. 

The  cub  had  never  seen  man,  yet  the  instinct  con- 
cerning man  was  his.  In  dim  ways  he  recognized  in 
man  the  animal  that  had  fought  itself  to  primacy  over 
the  other  animals  of  the  Wild.  Not  alone  out  of  his 
own  eyes,  but  out  of  the  eyes  of  all  his  ancestors  was  the 
cub  now  looking  upon  man  —  out  of  eyes  that  had 
circled  in  the  darkness  around  countless  winter  camp- 
fires,  that  had  peered  from  safe  distances  and  from  the 
hearts  of  thickets  at  the  strange,  two-legged  animal 
that  was  lord  over  living  things.  The  spell  of  the 
cub's  heritage  was  upon  him,  the  fear  and  the  respect 
born  of  the  centuries  of  struggle  and  the  accumulated 
experience  of  the  generations.  The  heritage  was  too 
compelling  for  a  wolf  that  was  only  a  cub.  Had  he 
been  full-grown,  he  would  have  run  away.  As  it 
was,  he  cowered  down  in  a  paralysis  of  fear,  already 
half  proffering  the  submission  that  his  kind  had 
proffered  from  the  first  time  a  wolf  came  in  to  sit 
by  man's  fire  and  be  made  warm. 

One  of  the  Indians  arose  and  walked  over  to  him 
and  stooped  above  him.  The  cub  cowered  closer  to 
the  ground.     It  was  the  unknown,  objectified  at  last, 


THE   MAKERS   OF    FIRE  115 

in  concrete  flesh  and  blood,  bending  over  him  and 
reaching  down  to  seize  hold  of  him.  His  hair  bristled 
involuntarily ;  his  lips  writhed  back  and  his  little 
fangs  were  bared.  The  hand,  poised  like  doom  above 
him,  hesitated,  and  the  man  spoke,  laughing,  "  Waham 
wahisca  ip  pit  tahy  Q'  Look  !     The  white  fangs  !  "^ 

The  other  Indians  laughed  loudly,  and  urged  the 
man  on  to  pick  up  the  cub.  As  the  hand  descended 
closer  and  closer,  there  raged  within  the  cub  a  battle 
of  the  instincts.  He  experienced  two  great  impulsions, 
—  to  yield  and  to  fight.  The  resulting  action  was  a 
compromise.  He  did  both.  He  yielded  till  the  hand 
almost  touched  him.  Then  he  fought,  his  teeth  flash- 
ing in  a  snap  that  sank  them  into  the  hand.  The 
next  moment  he  received  a  clout  alongside  the  head 
that  knocked  him  over  on  his  side.  Then  all  fight 
fled  out  of  him.  His  puppyhood  and  the  instinct  of 
submission  took  charge  of  him.  He  sat  up  on  his 
haunches  and  ki-yi'd.  But  the  man  whose  hand  he 
had  bitten  was  angry.  The  cub  received  a  clout  on 
the  other  side  of  his  head.  Whereupon  he  sat  up 
and  ki-yi'd  louder  than  ever. 

The  four  Indians  laughed  more  loudly,  while  even 
the  man  who  had  been  bitten  began  to  laugh.  They 
surrounded  the  cub  and  laughed  at  him,  w^hile  he 
wailed  out  his  terror  and  his  hurt.  In  the  midst 
of  it,  he  heard  something.  The  Indians  heard  it,  too. 
But  the  cub  knew  what  it  was,  and  wdth  a  last,  long 


116  WHITE   FANG 

wail  that  had  in  it  more  of  triumph  than  grief,  he 
ceased  his  noise  and  waited  for  the  coming  of  his 
mother,  of  his  ferocious  and  indomitable  mother  who 
fought  and  killed  all  things  and  was  never  afraid. 
She  was  snarling  as  she  ran.  She  had  heard  the  cry 
of  her  cub  and  was  dashing  to  save  him. 

She  bounded  in  amongst  them,  her  anxious  and 
militant  motherhood  making  her  anything  but  a 
pretty  sight.  But  to  the  cub  the  spectacle  of  her 
protective  rage  was  pleasing.  He  uttered  a  glad  little 
cry  and  bounded  to  meet  her,  while  the  man-animals 
went  back  hastily  several  steps.  The  she-wolf  stood 
over  against  her  cub,  facing  the  men,  with  bristling 
hair,  a  snarl  rumbling  deep  in  her  throat.  Her  face 
was  distorted  and  malignant  with  menace,  even  the 
bridge  of  the  nose  wrinkling  from  tip  to  eyes  so 
prodigious  was  her  snarl. 

Then  it  was  that  a  cry  went  up  from  one  of  the 
men.  "  Kiche  !  "  was  what  he  uttered.  It  was  an 
exclamation  of  surprise.  The  cub  felt  his  mother 
wilting  at  the  sound. 

"  Kiche ! "  the  man  cried  again,  this  time  with 
sharpness  and  authority. 

And  then  the  cub  saw  his  mother,  the  she-wolf,  the 
fearless  one,  crouching  down  till  her  belly  touched 
the  ground,  whimpering,  wagging  her  tail,  making 
peace  signs.  The  cub  could  not  understand.  He 
was    appalled.     The    awe    of    man  rushed  over  him 


THE   MAKERS   OF   FIRE  117 

again.  His  instinct  had  been  true.  His  mother 
verified  it.  She,  too,  rendered  submission  to  the 
man-animals. 

The  man  who  had  spoken  came  over  to  her.  He 
put  his  hand  upon  her  head,  and  she  only  crouched 
closer.  She  did  not  snap,  nor  threaten  to  snap. 
The  other  men  came  up,  and  surrounded  her,  and  felt 
her,  and  pawed  her,  which  actions  she  made  no 
attempt  to  resent.  They  were  greatly  excited,  and 
made  many  noises  with  their  mouths.  These  noises 
were  not  indications  of  danger,  the  cub  decided,  as  he 
crouched  near  his  mother,  still  bristling  from  time  to 
time  but  doing  his  best  to  submit. 

"  It  is  not  strange,"  an  Indian  was  saying.  "  Her 
father  was  a  wolf.  It  is  true,  her  mother  was  a  dog ; 
but  did  not  my  brother  tie  her  out  in  the  woods  all 
of  three  nights  in  the  mating  season  ?  Therefore 
was  the  father  of  Kiche  a  wolf." 

"  It  is  a  year,  Gray  Beaver,  since  she  ran  away," 
spoke  a  second  Indian. 

"  It  is  not  strange,  Salmon  Tongue,"  Gray  Beaver 
answered.  "It  was  the  time  of  the  famine,  and 
there  was  no  meat  for  the  dogs." 

"  She  has  lived  with  the  wolves,"  said  a  third 
Indian. 

"  So  it  would  seem,  Three  Eagles,"  Gray  Beaver 
answered,  laying  his  hand  on  the  cub ;  "  and  this  be 
the  sign  of  it." 


118  WHITE   FANG 

The  cub  snarled  a  little  at  the  touch  of  the  hand, 
and  the  hand  flew  back  to  administer  a  clout. 
Whereupon  the  cub  covered  its  fangs  and  sank  down 
submissively,  while  the  hand,  returning,  rubbed  behind 
his  ears,  and  up  and  down  his  back. 

"  This  be  the  sign  of  it,"  Gray  Beaver  went  on. 
"  It  is  plain  that  his  mother  is  Kiche.  But  his  father 
was  a  wolf.  Wherefore  is  there  in  him  little  dog  and 
much  wolf.  His  fangs  be  white,  and  White  Fang 
shall  be  his  name.  I  have  spoken.  He  is  my  dog. 
For  was  not  Kiche  my  brother's  dog  ?  And  is  not 
my  brother  dead  ?  " 

The  cub,  who  had  thus  received  a  name  in  the 
world,  lay  and  watched.  For  a  time  the  man-nanimals 
continued  to  make  their  mouth-noises.  Then  Gray 
Beaver  took  a  knife  from  a  sheath  that  hung  around 
his  neck,  and  went  into  the  thicket  and  cut  a  stick. 
White  Fang  watched  him.  He  notched  the  stick  at 
each  end  and  in  the  notches  fastened  strings  of  raw- 
hide. One  string  he  tied  around  the  throat  of  Kiche. 
Then  he  led  her  to  a  small  pine,  around  which  he 
tied  the  other  string. 

White  Fang  followed  and  •  lay  down  beside  her. 
Salmon  Tongue's  hand  reached  out  to  him  and  rolled 
him  over  on  his  back.  Kiche  looked  on  anxiously. 
White  Fang  felt  fear  mounting  in  him  again.  He 
could  not  quite  suppress  a  snarl,  but  he  made  no  offer 
to  snap.      The  hand,  with  fingers  crooked  and  spread 


THE   MAKERS   OF   FIRE  119 

apart,  rubbed  his  stomach  in  a  playful  way  and  rolled 
him  from  side  to  side.  It  was  ridiculous  and  un- 
gainly, lying  there  on  his  back  with  legs  sprawding  in 
the  air.  Besides,  it  was  a  position  of  such  utter  help- 
lessness that  White  Fang's  whole  nature  revolted  against 
it.  He  could  do  nothing  to  defend  himself.  If  this 
man-animal  intended  harm.  White  Fang  knew  that  he 
could  not  escape  it.  How  could  he  spring  away  with 
his  four  legs  in  the  air  above  him  ?  Yet  submission 
made  him  master  his  fear,  and  he  only  growled  softly. 
This  growl  he  could  not  suppress ;  nor  did  the  man- 
animal  resent  it  by  giving  him  a  blow  on  the  head. 
And  furthermore,  such  was  the  strangeness  of  it, 
White  Fang  experienced  an  unaccountable  sensation 
of  pleasure  as  the  hand  rubbed  back  and  forth. 
When  he  was  rolled  on  his  side  he  ceased  the  growl ; 
when  the  fingers  pressed  and  prodded  at  the  base  of 
his  ears  the  pleasurable  sensation  increased ;  and 
w^hen,  with  a  final  rub  and  scratch,  the  man  left 
him  alone  and  went  away,  all  fear  had  died  out  of 
White  Fang.  He  was  to  know  fear  many  times  in 
his  dealings  with  man ;  yet  it  was  a  token  of  the  fear- 
less companionship  with  man  that  was  ultimately  to 
be  his. 

After  a  time.  White  Fang  heard  strange  noises 
approaching.  He  was  quick  in  his  classification,  for 
he  knew  them  at  once  for  man-animal  noises.  A  few 
minutes  later  the  remainder  of  the  tribe,  strung  out 


120  WHITE   FANG 

as  it  was  on  the  march,  trailed  in.  There  were  more 
men  and  many  women  and  children,  forty  souls  of 
them,  and  all  heavily  bm^dened  with  camp  equipage 
and  outfit.  Also  there  were  many  dogs ;  and  these, 
with  the  exception  of  the  part-grown  puppies,  were 
likewise  burdened  with  camp  outfit.  On  their  backs, 
in  bags  that  fastened  tightly  around  underneath,  the 
dogs  carried  from  twenty  to  thirty  pounds  of  weight. 

V/hite  Fang  had  never  seen  dogs  before,  but  at  sight 
of  them  he  felt  that  they  were  his  own  kind,  only 
somehow  different.  But  they  displayed  little  differ- 
ence from  the  wolf  when  they  discovered  the  cub  and 
his  mother.  There  was  a  rush.  White  Fang  bristled 
and  snarled  and  snapped  in  the  face  of  the  open- 
mouthed  oncoming  wave  of  dogs,  and  went  dowm  and 
under  them,  feeling  the  sharp  slash  of  teeth  in  his  body, 
himself  biting  and  tearing  at  the  legs  and  bellies  above 
him.  There  was  a  great  uproar.  He  could  hear  the 
snarl  of  Kiche  as  she  fought  for  him  ;  and  he  could 
hear  the  cries  of  the  man-animals,  the  sound  of  clubs 
striking  upon  bodies,  and  the  yelps  of  pain  from  the 
dogs  so  struck. 

Only  a  few  seconds  elapsed  before  he  was  on  his 
feet  again.  He  could  now  see  the  man-animals  driv- 
ing back  the  dogs  with  clubs  and  stones,  defending 
him,  saving  him  from  the  savage  teeth  of  his  kind 
that  somehow  was  not  his  kind.  And  though  there 
was  no  reason  in  his  brain  for  a  clear  conception  of 


THE   MAKERS   OF   FIRE  121 

SO  abstract  a  thing  as  justice,  nevertheless,  in  his  own 
way,  he  felt  the  justice  of  the  man-animals,  and  he 
knew  them  for  what  they  were  — makers  of  law  and 
executors  of  law.  Also,  he  appreciated  the  power 
with  which  they  administered  the  law.  Unlike  any 
animals  he  had  ever  encountered,  they  did  not  bite 
nor  claw.  They  enforced  their  live  strength  with  the 
power  of  dead  things.  Dead  things  did  their  bidding. 
Thus,  sticks  and  stones,  directed  by  these  strange 
creatures,  leaped  through  the  air  like  living  things, 
inflicting  grievous  hurts  upon  the  dogs. 

To  his  mind  this  was  power  unusual,  power  incon- 
ceivable and  beyond  the  natural,  power  that  was  god- 
like. White  Fang,  in  the  very  nature  of  him,  could 
never  know  anything  about  gods ;  at  the  best  he 
could  know  only  things  that  were  beyond  knowing ; 
but  the  wonder  and  awe  that  he  had  of  these  man- 
animals  in  ways  resembled  what  would  be  the  wonder 
and  awe  of  man  at  sight  of  some  celestial  creature, 
on  a  mountain  top,  hurling  thunderbolts  from  either 
hand  at  an  astonished  world. 

The  last  dog  had  been  driven  back.  The  hubbub 
died  down.  And  White  Fang  licked  his  hurts  and 
meditated  upon  this,  his  first  taste  of  pack-cruelty 
and  his  introduction  to  the  pack.  He  had  never 
dreamed  that  his  own  kind  consisted  of  more  than 
One  Eye,  his  mother,  and  himself.  They  had  consti- 
tuted a  kind  apart,  and  here,  abruptly,  he  had  discov- 


122  WHITE    FANG 

ered  many  more  creatures  apparently  of  his  own  kind. 
And  there  was  a  subconscious  resentment  that  these, 
his  kind,  at  first  sight  had  pitched  upon  him  and  tried 
to  destroy  him.  In  tlie  same  way  he  resented  his 
mother  being  tied  with  a  stick,  even  though  it  was 
done  by  the  superior  man-animals.  It  savored  of  the 
trap,  of  bondage.  Yet  of  the  trap  and  of  bondage  he 
knew  nothing.  Freedom  to  roam  and  run  and  lie 
down  at  will,  had  been  his  heritage  ;  and  here  it 
was  being  infringed  upon.  His  mother's  movements 
were  restricted  to  the  length  of  a  stick,  and  by  the 
length  of  that  same  stick  w^as  he  restricted,  for  he  had 
not  yet  got  beyond  the  need  of  his  mother's  side. 

He  did  not  like  it.  Nor  did  he  like  it  when  the 
man-animals  arose  and  went  on  with  their  march ; 
for  a  tiny  man-animal  took  the  other  end  of  the 
stick  and  led  Kiche  captive  behind  him,  and  behind 
Kiche  follov/ed  White  Fang,  greatly  perturbed  and 
worried  by  this  new  adventure  he  had  entered  upon. 

They  went  down  the  valley  of  the  stream,  far 
beyond  White  Fang's  widest  ranging,  until  they  came 
to  the  end  of  the  valley,  where  the  stream  ran  into 
the  Mackenzie  River.  Here,  where  canoes  were 
cached  on  poles  high  in  the  air  and  where  stood  fish- 
racks  for  the  drying  of  fish,  camp  was  made ;  and 
White  Fang  looked  on  with  wondering  eyes.  The 
superiority  of  these  man-animals  increased  with  every 
moment.      There   was  their   mastery  over  all  these 


THE   MAKERS   OF   FIRE  123 

sharp-fanged  dogs.  It  breathed  of  power.  But 
greater  than  that,  to  the  wolf-cub,  was  their  mastery 
over  things  not  alive  ;  their  capacity  to  communicate 
motion  to  unmoving  things  ;  their  capacity  to  change 
the  very  face  of  the  world. 

It  was  this  last  that  especially  affected  him.  The 
elevation  of  frames  of  poles  caught  his  eye;  yet  this 
in  itself  w^as  not  so  remarkable,  being  done  by  the  same 
creatures  that  flung  sticks  and  stones  to  great  dis- 
tances. But  wdien  the  frames  of  poles  w^ere  made 
into  tepees  by  being  covered  with  cloth  and  skins. 
White  Fang  was  astounded.  It  was  the  colossal  bulk 
of  them  that  impressed  him.  They  arose  around 
him,  on  every  side,  like  some  monstrous  cjuick-grow- 
ing  form  of  life.  They  occupied  nearly  the  whole 
circumference  of  his  field  of  vision.  He  was  afraid 
of  them.  They  loomed  ominously  above  him ;  and 
when  the  breeze  stirred  them  into  huge  movements, 
he  cowered  down  in  fear,  keeping  his  eyes  warily 
upon  them,  and  prepared  to  spring  away  if  they 
attempted  to  precipitate  themselves  upon  him. 

But  in  a  short  while  his  fear  of  the  tepees  passed 
away.  He  saw  the  women  and  children  passing  in 
and  out  of  them  without  harm,  and  he  saw  the  dogs 
trying  often  to  get  into  them,  and  being  driven  away 
with  sharp  words  and  flying  stones.  After  a  time, 
he  left  Kiche's  side  and  crawded  cautiously  toward 
the  wall  of  the  nearest  tepee.     It  was  the  curiosity 


124  WHITE   FANG 

of  growth  that  urged  him  on  —  the  necessity  of 
learning  and  living  and  doing  that  brings  experience. 
The  last  few  inches  to  the  wall  of  the  tepee  were 
crawled  with  painful  slowness  and  precaution.  The 
day's  events  had  prepared  him  for  the  unknown  to 
manifest  itself  in  most  stupendous  and  unthinkable 
ways.  At  last  his  nose  touched  the  canvas.  He 
waited.  Nothing  happened.  Then  he  smelled  the 
strange  fabric,  saturated  with  the  man-smell.  He 
closed  on  the  canvas  with  his  teeth  and  gave  a  gentle 
tug.  Nothing  happened,  though  the  adjacent  por- 
tions of  the  tepee  moved.  He  tugged  harder.  There 
was  a  greater  movement.  It  was  delightful.  He 
tugged  still  harder,  and  repeatedly,  until  the  whole 
tepee  was  in  motion.  Then  the  sharp  cry  of  a  squaw 
inside  sent  him  scampering  back  to  Kiche.  But  after 
that  he  was  afraid  no  more  of  the  looming  bulks 
of  the  tepees. 

A  moment  later  he  was  straying  away  again  from 
his  mother.  Her  stick  was  tied  to  a  peg  in  the 
ground  and  she  could  not  follow  him.  A  part-grown 
puppy,  somewhat  larger  and  older  than  he,  came 
toward  him  slowly,  with  ostentatious  and  belligerent 
importance.  The  puppy's  name,  as  White  Fang  was 
afterward  to  hear  him  called,  was  Lip-lip.  He  had 
had  experience  in  puppy  fights  and  was  already 
something  of  a  bully. 

Lip-lip   was  White  Fang's    own   kind,  and,  being 


THE   MAKERS   OF   FIRE  125 

only  a  puppy,  did  not  seem  dangerous ;  so  White 
Fang  prepared  to  meet  him  in  friendly  spirit.  But 
when  the  stranger's  walk  became  stiff-legged  and  his 
lips  lifted  clear  of  his  teeth,  White  Fang  stiffened, 
too,  and  answered  with  lifted  lips.  They  half  circled 
about  each  other,  tentativel}^,  snarling  and  bristling. 
This  lasted  several  minutes,  and  White  Fang  was  be- 
ginning to  enjoy  it,  as  a  sort  of  game.  But  suddenly, 
w^ith  remarkable  swiftness,  Lip-lip  leaped  in,  delivered 
a  slashing  snap,  and  leaped  away  again.  The  snap 
had  taken  effect  on  the  shoulder  that  had  been  hurt 
by  the  lynx  and  that  was  still  sore  deep  down  near 
the  bone.  The  surprise  and  hurt  of  it  brought  a  yelp 
out  of  White  Fang ;  but  the  next  moment,  in  a  rush 
of  anger,  he  was  upon  Lip-lip  and  snapping  viciously. 

But  Lip-lip  had  lived  his  life  in  camp  and  had 
fought  many  puppy  fights.  Three  times,  four  times, 
and  half  a  dozen  times,  his  sharp  little  teeth  scored 
on  the  newcomer,  until  White  Fang,  yelping  shame- 
lessly, fled  to  the  protection  of  his  mother.  It  was 
the  first  of  the  many  fights  he  was  to  have  with 
Lip-lip,  for  they  were  enemies  from  the  start,  born 
so,  with  natures  destined  perpetually  to  clash. 

Kiche  licked  White  Fang  soothingly  with  her 
tongue,  and  tried  to  prevail  upon  him  to  remain  with 
her.  But  his  curiosity  was  rampant,  and  several 
minutes  later  he  was  venturing  forth  on  a  new  quest. 
He  came  upon  one  of  the  man-animals.  Gray  Beaver, 


126  WHITE   FANG 

who  was  squatting  on  his  hams  and  doing  some- 
thing with  sticks  and  dry  moss  spread  before  him 
on  the  gromid.  White  Fang  came  near  to  him  and 
watched.  Gray  Beaver  made  mouth-noises  which 
White  Fang  interpreted  as  not  hostile,  so  he  came 
still  nearer. 

Women  and  children  were  carrying  more  sticks 
and  branches  to  Gray  Beaver.  It  was  evidently  an 
affair  of  moment.  White  Fang  came  in  until  he 
touched  Gray  Beaver's  knee,  so  curious  was  he,  and 
already  forgetful  that  this  was  a  terrible  man-animal. 
Suddenly  he  saw  a  strange  thing  like  mist  beginning 
to  arise  from  the  sticks  and  moss  beneath  Gray 
Beaver's  hands.  Then,  amongst  the  sticks  them- 
selves, appeared  a  live  thing,  twisting  and  turning, 
of  a  color  like  the  color  of  the  sun  in  the  sky.  White 
Fang  knew  nothing  about  fire.  It  drew  him  as  the 
light  in  the  mouth  of  the  cave  had  draw^n  him  in  his 
early  puppyhood.  He  crawled  the  several  steps 
toward  the  flame.  He  heard  Gray  Beaver  chuckle 
above  him,  and  he  knew  the  sound  was  not  hostile. 
Then  his  nose  touched  the  flame,  and  at  the  same 
instant  his  little  tongue  went  out  to  it. 

For  a  moment  he  was  paralyzed.  The  unknown, 
lurking  in  the  midst  of  the  sticks  and  moss,  was 
savagely  clutching  him  by  the  nose.  He  scrambled 
backward,  bursting  out  in  an  astonished  explosion 
of  ki-yi's.     At   the  sound,  Kiche  leaped  snarling  to 


THE   MAKERS   OF    FIRE  127 

the  end  of  her  stick,  and  there  raged  terribly  because 
she  could  not  come  to  his  aid.  But  Gray  Beaver 
laughed  loudly,  and  slapped  his  thighs,  and  told  the 
happening  to  all  the  rest  of  the  camp,  till  everybody 
was  laughing  uproariously.  But  White  Fang  sat 
on  his  haunches  and  ki-yi'd  and  ki-yi'd,  a  forlorn 
and  pitiable  little  figure  in  the  midst  of  the  man- 
animals. 

It  was  the  worst  hurt  he  had  ever  known.  Both 
nose  and  tongue  had  been  scorched  by  the  live  thing, 
sun-colored,  that  had  grown  up  under  Gray  Beaver's 
hands.  He  cried  and  cried  interminably,  and  every 
fresh  wail  was  greeted  by  bursts  of  laughter  on  the 
part  of  the  man-animals.  He  tried  to  soothe  his  nose 
with  his  tongue,  but  the  tongue  was  burnt  too,  and 
the  two  hm'ts  coming  together  produced  greater  hurt ; 
whereupon  he  cried  more  hopelessly  and  helplessly 
than  ever. 

And  then  shame  came  to  him.  He  knew  laughter 
and  the  meaning  of  it.  It  is  not  given  us  to  know 
how  some  animals  know  laughter,  and  know  when 
they  are  being  laughed  at ;  but  it  was  this  same  way 
that  White  Fang  knew  it.  And  he  felt  shame  that 
the  man-animals  should  be  laughing  at  him.  He 
turned  and  fled  away,  not  from  the  hurt  of  the  fire, 
but  from  the  laughter  that  sank  even  deeper,  and 
hurt  in  the  spirit  of  him.  And  he  fled  to  Kiche, 
raging  at  the  end  of  her  stick  like  an  animal  gone 


128  WHITE   FANG 

mad  —  to  Kiche,  the  one  creature  in  the  world  who 
was  not  laughing  at  him. 

Twilight  drew  down  and  night  came  on,  and  White 
Fang  lay  by  his  mother's  side.  His  nose  and  tongue 
still  hurt,  but  he  was  perplexed  by  a  greater  trouble. 
He  was  homesick.  He  felt  a  vacancy  in  him,  a  need 
for  the  hush  and  c^uietude  of  the  stream  and  the  cave 
in  the  cliff.  Life  had  become  too  populous.  There 
were  so  many  of  the  man-animals,  men,  women,  and 
children,  all  making  noises  and  irritations.  And 
there  were  the  dogs,  ever  squabbling  and  bickering, 
bursting  into  uproars  and  creating  confusions.  The 
restful  loneliness  of  the  only  life  he  had  known  was 
gone.  Here  the  very  air  was  palpitant  with  life.  It 
hummed  and  buzzed  unceasingly.  Continually  chang- 
ing its  intensity  and  abruptly  variant  in  pitch,  it 
impinged  on  his  nerves  and  senses,  made  him  nervous 
and  restless  and  worried  him  with  a  perpetual  immi- 
nence of  happening. 

He  watched  the  man-animals  coming  and  going 
and  moving  about  the  camp.  In  fashion  distantly 
resembling  the  way  men  look  upon  the  gods  they 
create,  so  looked  White  Fang  upon  the  man-animals 
before  him.  They  were  superior  creatures,  of  a  ver- 
ity, gods.  To  his  dim  comprehension  they  were  as 
much  wonder-workers  as  gods  are  to  men.  They 
were  creatures  of  mastery,  possessing  all  manner  of 
unknown  and  impossible  potencies,  overlords  of  the 


They  were  fire-makers !     They  were  gods 


THE   MAKERS   OF   FIRE  129 

alive  and  the  not  alive,  —  making  obey  that  which 
moved,  imparting  movement  to  that  which  did  not 
move,  and  making  life,  sun-colored  and  biting  life, 
to  grow  out  of  dead  moss  and  wood.  They  were 
fire-makers !     They  were  gods  ! 


CHAPTER    II 


THE    BONDAGE 


The  days  were  thronged  with  experience  for  White 
Fang.  During  the  time  that  Kiche  was  tied  by  the 
stick,  he  ran  about  over  all  the  camp,  inquiring,  in- 
vestigating, learning.  He  quickly  came  to  know 
much  of  the  ways  of  the  man-animals,  but  familiarity 
did  not  breed  contempt.  The  more  he  came  to  know 
them,  the  more  they  vindicated  their  superiority,  the 
more  they  displayed  their  mysterious  powers,  the 
greater  loomed  their  god-likeness. 

To  man  has  been  given  the  grief,  often,  of  seeing 
his  gods  overthrown  and  his  altars  crumbling ;  but 
to  the  wolf  and  the  wild  dog  that  have  come  in  to 
crouch  at  man's  feet,  this  grief  has  never  come.  Un- 
like man,  whose  gods  are  of  the  unseen  and  the 
overguessed,  vapors  and  mists  of  fancy  eluding  the 
garmenture  of  reality,  wandering  wraiths  of  desired 
goodness  and  power,  intangible  outcroppings  of  self 
into  the  realm  of  spirit  —  unlike  man,  the  wolf  and 
the  wild  dog  that  have  come  in  to  the  fire  find  their 
gods  in  the  living  flesh,  solid  to  the  touch,  occupying 

130 


THE   BONDAGE  131 

earth-space  and  requiring  time  for  the  accomplish- 
ment of  their  ends  and  their  existence.  No  effort  of 
faith  is  necessary  to  believe  in  such  a  god  ;  no  effort 
of  will  can  possibly  induce  disbelief  in  such  a  god. 
There  is  no  getting  away  from  it.  There  it  stands, 
on  its  tw^o  hind-legs,  club  in  hand,  immensely  poten- 
tial, passionate  and  wrathful  and  loving,  god  and 
mystery  and  power  all  wrapped  up  and  around  by 
flesh  that  bleeds  when  it  is  torn  and  that  is  good  to 
eat  like  any  flesh. 

And  so  it  was  with  White  Fang.  The  man-ani- 
mals were  gods  unmistakable  and  unescapable.  As 
his  mother,  Kiche,  had  rendered  her  allegiance  to  them 
at  the  first  cry  of  her  name,  so  he  was  beginning  to 
render  his  allegiance.  He  gave  them  tlie  trail  as  a 
privilege  indubitably  theirs.  When  they  walked,  he 
got  out  of  their  way.  When  they  called,  he  came. 
When  they  threatened,  he  cowered  down.  When 
they  commanded  him  to  go,  he  went  aw^ay  hurriedly. 
For  behind  any  wish  of  theirs  was  power  to  enforce 
that  wish,  power  that  hurt,  power  that  expressed 
itself  in  clouts  and  clubs,  in  flying  stones  and  stinging 
lashes  of  whips. 

He  belonged  to  them  as  all  dogs  belonged  to  them. 
His  actions  were  theirs  to  command.  His  body  was 
theirs  to  maul,  to  stamp  upon,  to  tolerate.  Such  was 
the  lesson  that  was  quickly  borne  in  upon  him.  It 
came  hard,  going  as  it  did,  counter  to  much  that  was 


132  WHITE   FANG 

strong  and  dominant  in  his  own  nature ;  and,  while 
he  disliked  it  in  the  learning  of  it,  unknown  to  him- 
self he  was  learning  to  like  it.  It  was  a  placing  of 
his  destiny  in  another's  hands,  a  shifting  of  the  re- 
sponsibilities of  existence.  This  in  itself  was  com- 
pensation, for  it  is  always  easier  to  lean  upon  another 
than  to  stand  alone. 

But  it  did  not  all  happen  in  a  day,  this  giving  over 
of  himself,  body  and  soul,  to  the  man-animals.  He 
could  not  immediately  forego  his  wild  heritage  and 
his  memories  of  the  Wild.  There  were  days  when  he 
crept  to  the  edge  of  the  forest  and  stood  and  listened 
to  something  calling  him  far  and  away.  And  always 
he  returned,  restless  and  uncomfortable,  to  whimper 
softly  and  wistfully  at  Kiche's  side  and  to  lick  her 
face  with  eager,  questioning  tongue. 

White  Fang  learned  rapidly  the  ways  of  the  camp. 
He  knew  the  injustice  and  greediness  of  the  older 
dogs  when  meat  or  fish  was  thrown  out  to  be  eaten. 
He  came  to  know  that  men  were  more  just,  children 
more  cruel,  and  women  more  kindly  and  more  likely 
to  toss  him  a  bit  of  meat  or  bone.  And  after  two 
or  three  painful  adventures  with  the  mothers  of  part- 
grown  puppies,  he  came  into  the  knowledge  that  it 
was  always  good  policy  to  let  such  mothers  alone, 
to  keep  away  from  them  as  far  as  possible,  and  to 
avoid  them  when  he  saw  them  coming. 

But  the  bane  of  his  life  was  Lip-lip.    Larger,  older. 


THE   BONDAGE  133 

and  stronger,  Lip-lip  had  selected  White  Fang  for  his 
special  object  of  persecution.  White  Fang  fought 
willingly  enough,  but  he  was  outclassed.  His  enemy 
was  too  big.  Lip-lip  became  a  nightmare  to  him. 
Whenever  he  ventured  away  from  his  mother,  the 
bully  was  sure  to  appear,  trailing  at  his  heels,  snarl- 
ing at  him,  picking  upon  him,  and  watchful  of  an 
opportunity,  when  no  man-animal  was  near,  to  spring 
upon  him  and  force  a  fight.  As  Lip-lip  invariably 
won,  he  enjoyed  it  hugely.  It  became  his  chief  de- 
light in  life,  as  it  became  White  Fang's  chief  torment. 

But  the  effect  upon  White  Fang  was  not  to  cow 
him.  Though  he  suffered  most  of  the  damage  and 
was  always  defeated,  his  spirit  remained  unsubdued. 
Yet  a  bad  effect  was  produced.  He  became  malig- 
nant and  morose.  His  temper  had  been  savage  by 
birth,  but  it  became  more  savage  under  this  unending 
persecution.  The  genial,  playful,  puppyish  side  of 
him  found  little  expression.  He  never  played  and 
gambolled  about  with  the  other  puppies  of  the  camp. 
Lip-lip  would  not  permit  it.  The  moment  White 
Fang  appeared  near  them.  Lip-lip  was  upon  him, 
bullying  and  hectoring  him,  or  fighting  with  him 
until  he  had  driven  him  away. 

The  effect  of  all  this  was  to  rob  White  Fang  of 
much  of  his  puppyhood  and  to  make  him  in  his  com- 
portment older  than  his  age.  Denied  the  outlet, 
through  play,  of  his  energies,  he  recoiled  upon  himself 


134  WHITE   FANG 

and  developed  his  mental  processes.  He  became  cun- 
ning ;  he  had  idle  time  in  which  to  devote  himself 
to  thoughts  of  trickery.  Prevented  from  obtaining 
his  share  of  meat  and  fish  when  a  general  feed  was 
given  to  the  camp-dogs,  he  became  a  clever  thief. 
He  had  to  forage  for  himself,  and  he  foraged  well, 
though  he  was  ofttimes  a  plague  to  the  squaws  in 
consec|uence.  He  learned  to  sneak  about  camp,  to  be 
crafty,  to  know  what  was  going  on  everywhere,  to 
see  and  to  hear  everything  and  to  reason  accordingly, 
and  successfully  to  devise  ways  and  means  of  avoid- 
ing his  implacable  persecutor. 

It  was  early  in  the  days  of  his  persecution  that  he 
played  his  first  really  big  crafty  game  and  got  there- 
from his  first  taste  of  revenge.  As  Kiche,  when  with 
the  wolves,  had  lured  out  to  destruction  dogs  from 
the  camps  of  men,  so  White  Fang,  in  manner  some- 
what similar,  lured  Lip-lip  into  Kiche's  avenging 
jaws.  Retreating  before  Lip-lip,  White  Fang  made 
an  indirect  flight  that  led  in  and  out  and  around  the 
various  tepees  of  the  camp.  He  was  a  good  runner, 
swifter  than  any  other  puppy  of  his  size,  and  swifter 
than  Lip-lip.  But  he  did  not  run  his  best  in  this 
chase.  He  barely  held  his  own,  one  leap  ahead  of 
his  pursuer. 

Lip-lip,  excited  by  the  chase  and  by  the  persistent 
nearness  of  his  victim,  forgot  caution  and  locality. 
When  he  remembered  locality,  it  was  too  late.     Dash- 


THE   BONDAGE  135 

ing  at  top  speed  around  a  tepee,  he  ran  full  tilt  into 
Kiche  lying  at  the  end  of  her  stick.  He  gave  one 
yelp  of  consternation,  and  then  her  punishing  jaws 
closed  upon  him.  She  was  tied,  but  he  could  not  get 
away  from  her  easily.  She  rolled  him  off  his  legs 
so  that  he  could  not  run,  while  she  repeatedly  ripped 
and  slashed  him  with  her  fangs. 

When  at  last  he  succeeded  in  rolling  clear  of  her, 
he  crawled  to  his  feet,  badly  dishevelled,  hurt  both  in 
body  and  in  spirit.  His  hair  was  standing  out  all 
over  him  in  tufts  w^here  her  teeth  had  mauled.  He 
stood  where  he  had  arisen,  opened  his  mouth,  and 
broke  out  the  long,  heart-broken  puppy  wail.  But 
even  this  he  was  not  allowed  to  complete.  In  the 
middle  of  it.  White  Fang,  rushing  in,  sank  his  teeth 
into  Lip-lijD's  hind  leg.  There  was  no  fight  left  in 
Lip-lip,  and  he  ran  away  shamelessly,  his  victim  hot 
on  his  heels  and  worrying  him  all  the  way  back  to 
his  own  tepee.  Here  the  squaws  came  to  his  aid, 
and  White  Fang,  transformed  into  a  raging  demon, 
was  finally  driven  off  only  by  a  fusillade  of  stones. 

Came  the  day  when  Gray  Beaver,  deciding  that  the 
liability  of  her  running  away  was  past,  released  Kiche. 
White  Fang  was  delighted  with  his  mother's  freedom. 
He  accompanied  her  joyfully  about  the  camp  ;  and,  so 
long  as  he  remained  close  by  her  side.  Lip-lip  kept  a 
respectful  distance.  White  Fang  even  bristled  up  to 
him  and  w^alked  stiff-legged,  but  Lip-lip  ignored  the 


136  WHITE   FANG 

challenge.  He  was  no  fool  himself,  and  whatever 
vengeance  he  desired  to  w^reak,  he  could  wait  until  he 
caught  White  Fang  alone. 

Later  on  that  day,  Kiche  and  White  Fang  strayed 
into  the  edge  of  the  woods  next  to  the  camp.  He  had 
led  his  mother  there,  step  by  step,  and  now,  when 
she  stopped,  he  tried  to  inveigle  her  farther.  The 
stream,  the  lair,  and  the  quiet  woods  were  calling  to 
him,  and  he  wanted  her  to  come.  He  ran  on  a  few 
steps,  stopped,  and  looked  back.  She  had  not 
moved.  He  whined  pleadingly,  and  scurried  play- 
fully in  and  out  of  the  underbrush.  He  ran  back  to 
her,  licked  her  face,  and  ran  on  again.  And  still  she 
did  not  move.  He  stopped  and  regarded  her,  all  of 
an  intentness  and  eagerness,  physically  expressed, 
that  slowly  faded  out  of  him  as  she  turned  her  head 
and  gazed  back  at  the  camp. 

There  was  something  calling  to  him  out  there  in 
th^  open.  His  mother  heard  it,  too.  But  she  heard 
also  that  other  and  louder  call,  the  call  of  the  fire 
and  of  man  —  the  call  which  it  has  been  given  alone 
of  all  animals  to  the  wolf  to  answer,  to  the  wolf  and 
the  wild-dog,  who  are  brothers. 

Kiche  turned  and  slowly  trotted  back  toward  camp. 
Stronger  than  the  physical  restraint  of  the  stick  was 
the  clutch  of  the  camp  upon  her.  Unseen  and  occultly, 
the  gods  still  gripped  with  their  power  and  would  not 
let  her  go.     White  Fang  sat  down  in  the  shadow  of  a 


THE   BONDAGE  137 

birch  and  whimpered  softly.  There  was  a  strong 
smell  of  pine,  and  subtle  woods  fragrances  filled  the 
air,  reminding  him  of  his  old  life  of  freedom  before 
the  days  of  his  bondage.  But  he  was  still  only  a 
part-grown  puppy,  and  stronger  than  the  call  either 
of  man  or  of  the  Wild  was  the  call  of  his  mother. 
All  the  hours  of  his  short  life  he  had  depended  upon 
her.  The  time  was  yet  to  come  for  independence. 
So  he  arose  and  trotted  forlornly  back  to  camp,  paus- 
ing once,  and  twice,  to  sit  down  and  whimper  and  to 
listen  to  the  call  that  still  sounded  in  the  depths  of 
the  forest. 

In  the  Wild  the  time  of  a  mother  with  her  young  is 
short ;  but  under  the  dominion  of  man  it  is  sometimes 
even  shorter.  Thus  it  was  with  White  Fang.  Gray 
Beaver  was  in  the  debt  of  Three  Eagles.  Three 
Eagles  was  going  away  on  a  trip  up  the  Mackenzie 
to  the  Great  Slave  Lake.  A  strip  of  scarlet  cloth,  a 
bearskin,  twenty  cartridges,  and  Kiche,  went  to  pay 
the  debt.  White  Fang  saw  his  mother  taken  aboard 
Three  Eagles'  canoe,  and  tried  to  follow  her.  A  blow 
from  Three  Eagles  knocked  him  backward  to  the 
land.  The  canoe  shoved  off.  He  sprang  into  the 
water  and  swam  after  it,  deaf  to  the  sharp  cries  of 
Gray  Beaver  to  return.  Even  a  man-animal,  a  god, 
White  Fang  ignored,  such  was  the  terror  he  was  in 
of  losing  his  mother. 

But  gods  are  accustomed  to  being  obeyed,  and  Gray 


138  WHITE    FANG 

Beaver  wrathfully  launched  a  canoe  in  pursuit.  When 
he  overtook  White  Fang,  he  reached  dow^n  and  by  the 
nape  of  the  neck  lifted  him  clear  of  the  w^ater.  He 
did  not  deposit  him  at  once  in  the  bottom  of  the 
canoe.  Holding  him  suspended  w^ith  one  hand,  v^ith 
the  other  hand  he  proceeded  to  give  him  a  beating. 
And  it  was  a  beating.  His  hand  v^as  heavy.  Every 
blow  vsras  shrewd  to  hurt ;  and  he  delivered  a  multi- 
tude of  blows. 

Impelled  by  the  blows  that  rained  upon  him,  now 
from  this  side,  now  from  that.  White  Fang  swung 
back  and  forth  like  an  erratic  and  jerky  pendulum. 
Varying  were  the  emotions  that  surged  through  him. 
At  first,  he  had  known  surprise.  Then  came  a  mo- 
mentary fear,  when  he  yelped  several  times  to  the 
impact  of  the  hand.  But  this  was  quickly  followed 
by  anger.  His  free  nature  asserted  itself,  and  he 
showed  his  teeth  and  snarled  fearlessly  in  the  face 
of  the  wrathful  god.  This  but  served  to  make  the 
god  more  wrathful.  The  blows  came  faster,  heavier, 
more  shrewd  to  hurt. 

Gray  Beaver  continued  to  beat,  White  Fang  con- 
tinued to  snarl.  But  this  could  not  last  forever. 
One  or  the  other  must  give  over,  and  that  one  was 
White  Fang.  Fear  surged  through  him  again.  For 
the  first  time  he  was  being  really  man-handled.  The 
occasional  blows  of  sticks  and  stones  he  had  previ- 
ously experienced  were    as    caresses    compared  with 


THE   BONDAGE  139 

this.  He  broke  down  and  began  to  cry  and  yelp. 
For  a  time  each  blow  brought  a  yelp  from  him ;  but 
fear  passed  into  terror,  until  finally  his  yelps  were 
voiced  in  unbroken  succession,  unconnected  with  the 
rhythm  of  the  punishment. 

At  last  Gray  Beaver  withheld  his  hand.  White 
Fang,  hanging  limply,  continued  to  cry.  This  seemed 
to  satisfy  his  master,  who  flung  him  down  roughly 
in  the  bottom  of  the  canoe.  In  the  meantime  the 
canoe  had  drifted  down  the  stream.  Gray  Beaver 
picked  up  the  paddle.  White  Fang  was  in  his  w^ay. 
He  spurned  him  savagely  with  his  foot.  In  that 
moment  White  Fang's  free  nature  flashed  forth 
again,  and  he  sank  his  teeth  into  the  moccasined 
foot. 

The  beating  that  had  gone  before  was  as  nothing 
compared  with  the  beating  he  now  received.  Gray 
Beaver's  wrath  was  terrible ;  likewise  was  White 
Fang's  fright.  Not  only  the  hand,  but  the  hard 
wooden  paddle  was  used  upon  him ;  and  he  was 
bruised  and  sore  in  all  his  small  body  when  he  was 
again  flung  down  in  the  canoe.  Again,  and  this 
time  with  purpose,  did  Gray  Beaver  kick  him. 
White  Fang  did  not  repeat  his  attack  on  the  foot. 
He  had  learned  another  lesson  of  his  bondage. 
Never,  no  matter  what  the  circumstance,  must  he 
dare  to  bite  the  god  who  was  lord  and  master  over 
him ;  the  body  of  the  lord  and  master  was  sacred. 


140  WHITE     FANG 

not  to  be  defiled  by  the  teeth  of  such  as  he.  That 
was  evidently  the  crime  of  crimes,  the  one  offence 
there  was  no  condoning  nor  overlooking. 

When  the  canoe  touched  the  shore,  White  Fang 
lay  whimpering  and  motionless,  waiting  the  will  of 
Gray  Beaver.  It  was  Gray  Beaver's  will  that 
he  should  go  ashore,  for  ashore  he  was  flung, 
striking  heavily  on  his  side  and  hurting  his  bruises 
afresh.  He  crawled  tremblingly  to  his  feet  and 
stood  whimpering.  Lip-lip,  who  had  watched  the 
whole  proceeding  from  the  bank,  now  rushed  upon 
him,  knocking  him  over  and  sinking  his  teeth  into 
him.  White  Fang  was  too  helpless  to  defend  him- 
self, and  it  would  have  gone  hard  with  him  had 
not  Gray  Beaver's  foot  shot  out,  lifting  Lip-lip  into 
the  air  with  its  violence  so  that  he  smashed  down 
to  earth  a  dozen  feet  away.  This  was  the  man- 
animal's  justice ;  and  even  then,  in  his  own  pitiable 
plight,  White  Fang  experienced  a  little  grateful 
thrill.  At  Gray  Beaver's  heels  he  limped  obedi- 
ently through  the  village  to  the  tepee.  And  so  it 
came  that  White  Fang  learned  that  the  right  to 
punish  was  something  the  gods  reserved  for  them- 
selves and  denied  to  the  lesser  creatures  under 
them. 

That  night,  when  all  was  still,  White  Fang  remem- 
bered his  mother  and  sorrowed  for  her.  He  sor- 
rowed   too  loudly  and  woke  up   Gray  Beaver,  who 


THE   BONDAGE  141 

beat  him.  After  that  he  mourned  gently  when  the 
gods  were  around.  But  sometimes,  straying  off  to 
the  edge  of  the  woods  by  himself,  he  gave  vent  to 
his  grief,  and  cried  it  out  with  loud  whimperings 
and  wailings. 

It  was  during  this  period  that  he  might  have 
hearkened  to  the  memories  of  the  lair  and  the  stream 
and  run  back  to  the  Wild.  But  the  memory  of  his 
mother  held  him.  As  the  hunting  man-animals  went 
out  and  came  back,  so  she  would  come  back  to  the 
village  sometime.  So  he  remained  in  his  bondage 
waiting  for  her. 

But  it  was  not  altogether  an  unhappy  bondage. 
There  was  much  to  interest  him.  Something  was 
always  happening.  There  was  no  end  to  the  strange 
things  these  gods  did,  and  he  was  always  curious  to 
see.  Besides,  he  was  learning  how  to  get  along  with 
Gray  Beaver.  Obedience,  rigid,  undevia^ting  obedi- 
ence, was  what  was  exacted  of  him ;  and  in  return 
he  escaped  beatings  and  his  existence  was  tolerated. 

Nay,  Gray  Beaver  himself  sometimes  tossed  him  a 
piece  of  meat,  and  defended  him  against  the  other 
dogs  in  the  eating  of  it.  And  such  a  piece  of  meat 
was  of  value.  It  was  worth  more,  in  some  strange 
way,  than  a  dozen  pieces  of  meat  from  the  hand  of  a 
squaw.  Gray  Beaver  never  petted  nor  caressed. 
Perhaps  it  was  the  weight  of  his  hand,  perhaps 
his   justice,  perhaps    the    sheer    power    of    him,   and 


142  WHITE   FANG 

perhaps  it  was  all  these  things  that  influenced  White 
Fang ;  for  a  certain  tie  of  attachment  was  forming 
between  him  and  his  surly  lord. 

Insidiously,  and  by  remote  ways,  as  well  as  by  the 
power  of  stick  and  stone  and  clout  of  hand,  were  the 
shackles  of  White  Fang's  bondage  being  riveted  upon 
him.  The  qualities  in  his  kind  that  in  the  beginning, 
made  it  possible  for  them  to  come  in  to  the  fires  of 
men,  were  qualities  capable  of  development.  They 
were  developing  in  him,  and  the  camp-life,  replete 
with  misery  as  it  was,  was  secretly  endearing  itself 
to  him  all  the  time.  But  White  Fang  was  unaware 
of  it.  He  knew  only  grief  for  the  loss  of  Kiche,  hope 
for  her  return,  and  a  hungry  yearning  for  the  free  life 
that  had  been  his. 


CHAPTER   III 


THE    OUTCAST 


Lip-lip  continued  so  to  darken  his  days  that  White 
Fang  became  wickeder  and  more  ferocious  than  it 
was  his  natural  right  to  be.  Savageness  was  a  part 
of  his  make-up,  but  the  savageness  thus  developed 
exceeded  his  make-up.  He  acquired  a  reputation 
for  wickedness  amongst  the  man-animals  themselves. 
Wherever  there  was  trouble  and  uproar  in  camp, 
fighting  and  squabbling  or  the  outcry  of  a  squaw 
over  a  bit  of  stolen  meat,  they  were  sure  to  find 
White  Fang  mixed  up  in  it  and  usually  at  the  bottom 
of  it.  They  did  not  bother  to  look  after  the  causes 
of  his  conduct.  They  saw  only  the  effects,  and  the 
effects  were  bad.  He  was  a  sneak  and  a  thief,  a 
mischief-maker,  a  fomenter  of  trouble ;  and  irate 
squaws  told  him  to  his  face,  the  while  he  eyed  them 
alert  and  ready  to  dodge  any  quick-flung  missile,  that 
he  was  a  wolf  and  worthless  and  bound  to  come  to 
an  evil  end. 

He  found  himself  an  outcast  in  the  midst  of  the 
populous  camp.     All  the  young  dogs  followed   Lip- 

143 


144  WHITE   FANG 

lip's  lead.  There  was  a  difference  between  White 
Fang  and  them.  Perhaps  they  sensed  his  wild-wood 
breed,  and  instinctively  felt  for  him  the  enmity  that 
the  domestic  dog  feels  for  the  wolf.  But  be  that 
as  it  may,  they  joined  with  Lip-lip  in  the  persecu- 
tion. And,  once  declared  against  him,  they  found 
good  reason  to  continue  declared  against  him.  One 
and  all,  from  time  to  time,  they  felt  his  teeth ;  and  to 
his  credit,  he  gave  more  than  he  received.  Many  of 
them  he  could  whip  in  single  fight ;  but  single  fight 
was  denied  him.  The  beginning  of  such  a  fight  was 
a  signal  for  all  the  young  dogs  in  camp  to  come 
running  and  pitch  upon  him. 

Out  of  this  pack-persecution  he  learned  two  im- 
portant things  ;  how  to  take  care  of  himself  in  a  mass- 
fight  against  him ;  and  how,  on  a  single  dog,  to  inflict 
the  greatest  amount  of  damage  in  the  briefest  space 
of  time.  To  keep  one's  feet  in  the  midst  of  the  hos- 
tile mass  meant  life,  and  this  he  learned  well.  He 
becam.e  cat-like  in  his  ability  to  stay  on  his  feet. 
Even  grown  dogs  might  hurtle  him  backward  or 
sideways  with  the  impact  of  their  heavy  bodies ;  and 
backward  or  sideways  he  would  go,  in  the  air  or 
sliding  on  the  ground,  but  always  with  his  legs  under 
him  and  his  feet  downward  to  the  mother  earth. 

When  dogs  fight,  there  are  usually  preliminaries 
to  the  actual  combat  —  snarlings  and  bristlings  and 
stiff-legged  struttings.     But  White   Fang  learned  to 


THE   OUTCAST  145 

omit  these  preliminaries.  Delay  meant  the  coming 
against  him  of  all  the  young  dogs.  He  must  do  his 
work  quickly  and  get  away.  So  he  learned  to  give 
no  warning  of  his  intention.  He  rushed  in  and 
snapped  and  slashed  on  the  instant,  without  notice, 
before  his  foe  could  prepare  to  meet  him.  Thus  he 
learned  how  to  inflict  quick  and  severe  damage.  Also 
he  learned  the  value  of  surprise.  A  dog,  taken  off  its 
guard,  its  shoulder  slashed  open  or  its  ear  ripped  in 
ribbons  before  it  knew  what  was  happening,  was  a 
dog  half  whipped. 

Furthermore,  it  was  remarkably  easy  to  overthrow 
a  dog  taken  by  surprise ;  while  a  dog,  thus  over- 
thrown, invariably  exposed  for  a  moment  the  soft 
underside  of  its  neck  —  the  vulnerable  point  at  which 
to  strike  for  its  life.  White  Fang  knew  this  point. 
It  was  a  knowledge  bequeathed  to  him  directly  from 
the  hunting  generations  of  wolves.  So  it  was  that 
White  Fang's  method,  when  he  took  the  oifensive, 
was  :  first,  to  find  a  young  dog  alone ;  second,  to  sur- 
prise it  and  knock  it  off  its  feet ;  and  third,  to  drive 
in  with  his  teeth  at  the  soft  throat. 

Being  but  partly  grown,  his  jaws  had  not  yet 
become  large  enough  nor  strong  enough  to  make  his 
throat-attack  deadly ;  but  many  a  young  dog  went 
around  camp  with  a  lacerated  throat  in  token  of 
White  Fang's  intention.  And  one  day,  catching  one 
of  his  enemies  alone  on  the  edge  of  the  woods,  he 


146  WHITE   FANG 

managed,  by  repeatedly  overthrowing  him  and  attack- 
ing the  throat,  to  cut  the  great  vein  and  let  out  the 
life.  There  v^as  a  great  row  that  night.  He  had 
been  observed,  the  news  had  been  carried  to  the  dead 
dog's  master,  the  squaws  remembered  all  the  in- 
stances of  stolen  meat,  and  Gray  Beaver  was  beset 
by  many  angry  voices.  But  he  resolutely  held  the 
door  of  his  tepee,  inside  which  he  had  placed  the 
culprit,  and  refused  to  permit  the  vengeance  for 
which  his  tribespeople  clamored. 

White  Fang  became  hated  by  man  and  dog.  Dur- 
ing this  period  of  his  development  he  never  knew 
a  moment's  security.  The  tooth  of  every  dog  was 
against  him,  the  hand  of  every  man.  He  was  greeted 
with  snarls  by  his  kind,  with  curses  and  stones  by  his 
gods.  He  lived  tensely.  He  was  always  keyed  up, 
alert  for  attack,  wary  of  being  attacked,  with  an  eye 
for  sudden  and  unexpected  missiles,  prepared  to  act 
precipitately  and  coolly,  to  leap  in  with  a  flash  of 
teeth,  or  to  leap  away  with  a  menacing  snarl. 

As  for  snarling,  he  could  snarl  more  terribly  than 
any  dog,  young  or  old,  in  camp.  The  intent  of  the 
snarl  is  to  warn  or  frighten,  and  judgment  is  required 
to  know  when  it  should  be  used.  White  Fang  knew 
how  to  make  it  and  when  to  make  it.  Into  his  snarl 
he  incorporated  all  that  was  vicious,  malignant,  and 
horrible.  With  nose  serrulated  by  continuous  spasms, 
hair  bristling   in   recurrent  waves,  tongue  whipping 


THE   OUTCAST  147 

out  like  a  red  snake  and  whipping  back  again,  ears 
flattened  down,  eyes  gleaming  hatred,  lips  wrinkled 
back,  and  fangs  exposed  and  dripping,  he  could 
compel  a  pause  on  the  part  of  almost  any  assailant. 
A  temporary  pause,  when  taken  off  his  guard,  gave  him 
the  vital  moment  in  which  to  think  and  determine 
his  action.  But  often  a  pause  so  gained  lengthened 
out  until  it  evolved  into  a  complete  cessation  from 
the  attack.  And  before  more  than  one  of  the  grown 
dogs  White  Fang's  snarl  enabled  him  to  beat  an 
honorable  retreat. 

An  outcast  himself  from  the  pack  of  the  part- 
grown  dogs,  his  sanguinary  methods  and  remarkable 
efficiency  made  the  pack  pay  for  its  persecution  of 
him.  Not  permitted  himself  to  run  with  the  pack, 
the  curious  state  of  affairs  obtained  that  no  member 
of  the  pack  could  run  outside  the  pack.  White  Fang 
would  not  permit  it.  What  of  his  bushwhacking  and 
waylaying  tactics,  the  young  dogs  were  afraid  to  run 
by  themselves.  With  the  exception  of  Lip-lip,  they 
were  compelled  to  bunch  together  for  mutual  pro- 
tection against  the  terrible  enemy  they  had  made. 
A  puppy  alone  by  the  river  bank  meant  a  puppy  dead 
or  a  puppy  that  aroused  the  camp  with  its  shrill 
pain  and  terror  as  it  fled  back  from  the  wolf-cub  that 
had  waylaid  it. 

But  White  Fang's  reprisals  did  not  cease,  even 
when  the  young  dogs  had  learned  thoroughly   that 


148  WHITE   FANG 

they  must  stay  together.  He  attacked  them  when 
he  caught  them  alone,  and  they  attacked  him  when 
they  were  bunched.  The  sight  of  him  was  sufficient 
to  start  them  rushing  after  him,  at  which  times  his 
swiftness  usually  carried  him  into  safety.  But  woe 
to  the  dog  that  outran  his  fellows  in  such  pursuit ! 
White  Fang  had  learned  to  turn  suddenly  upon  the 
pursuer  that  was  ahead  of  the  pack  and  thoroughly  to 
rip  him  up  before  the  pack  could  arrive.  This  oc- 
curred with  great  frequency,  for,  once  in  full  cry,  the 
dogs  were  prone  to  forget  themselves  in  the  excite- 
ment of  the  chase,  while  White  Fang  never  forgot 
himself.  Stealing  backward  glances  as  he  ran,  he 
was  always  ready  to  whirl  around  and  down  the 
overzealous  pursuer  that  outran  his  fellows. 

Young  dogs  are  bound  to  play,  and  out  of  the  exi- 
gencies of  the  situation  they  realized  their  play  in 
this  mimic  warfare.  Thus  it  was  that  the  hunt  of 
White  Fang  became  their  chief  game  —  a  deadly 
game,  withal,  and  at  all  times  a  serious  game.  He, 
on  the  other  hand,  being  the  fastest-footed,  was  un- 
afraid to  venture  anywhere.  During  the  period  that 
he  waited  vainly  for  his  mother  to  come  back,  he  led 
the  pack  many  a  wild  chase  through  the  adjacent 
woods.  But  the  pack  invariably  lost  him.  Its  noise 
and  outcry  warned  him  of  its  presence,  while  he  ran 
alone,  velvet-footed,  silently,  a  moving  shadow  among 
the  trees  after  the  manner  of  his  father  and  mother 


THE   OUTCAST  149 

before  him.  Further,  he  was  more  directly  connected 
with  the  Wild  than  they ;  and  he  knew  more  of  its 
secrets  and  stratagems.  A  favorite  trick  of  his  was 
to  lose  his  trail  in  running  water  and  then  lie  quietly 
in  a  near-by  thicket  while  their  baffled  cries  arose 
around  him. 

Hated  by  his  kind  and  by  mankind,  indomitable, 
perpetually  warred  upon  and  himself  waging  perpet- 
ual war,  his  development  was  rapid  and  one-sided. 
This  was  no  soil  for  kindliness  and  affection  to 
blossom  in.  Of  such  things  he  had  not  the  faintest 
glimmering.  The  code  he  learned  was  to  obey  the 
strong  and  to  oppress  the  weak.  Gray  Beaver  was  a 
god,  and  strong.  Therefore  White  Fang  obeyed  him. 
But  the  dog  younger  or  smaller  than  himself  was 
weak,  a  thing  to  be  destroyed.  His  development  was 
in  the  direction  of  power.  In  order  to  face  the  con- 
stant danger  of  hurt  and  even  of  destruction,  his  pred- 
atory and  protective  faculties  were  unduly  developed. 
He  became  quicker  of  movement  than  the  other  dogs, 
swifter  of  foot,  craftier,  deadlier,  more  lithe,  more 
lean  with  ironlike  muscle  and  sinew,  more  enduring, 
more  cruel,  more  ferocious,  and  more  intelligent. 
He  had  to  become  all  these  things,  else  he  w^ould  not 
have  held  his  own  nor  survived  the  hostile  environ- 
ment in  which  he  found  himself. 


CHAPTER    IV 

THE   TRAIL    OF    THE    GODS 

In  the  fall  of  the  year,  when  the  days  were  short- 
ening and  the  bite  of  the  frost  was  coming  into  the 
air,  White  Fang  got  his  chance  for  liberty.  For  sev- 
eral days  there  had  been  a  great  hubbub  in  the 
village.  The  summer  camp  was  being  dismantled, 
and  the  tribe,  bag  and  baggage,  was  preparing  to  go 
off  to  the  fall  hunting.  White  Fang  watched  it  all 
with  eager  eyes,  and  when  the  tepees  began  to  come 
down  and  the  canoes  were  loading  at  the  bank,  he 
understood.  Already  the  canoes  were  departing,  and 
some  had  disappeared  down  the  river. 

Quite  deliberately  he  determined  to  stay  behind. 
He  waited  his  opportunity  to  slink  out  of  camp  to 
the  woods.  Here,  in  the  running  stream  where  ice 
was  beginning  to  form,  he  hid  his  trail.  Then  he 
crawled  into  the  heart  of  a  dense  thicket  and  waited. 
The  time  passed  by,  and  he  slept  intermittently  for 
hours.  Then  he  was  aroused  by  Gray  Beaver's  voice 
calling  him  by  name.  There  were  other  voices. 
White  Fang  could  hear  Gray  Beaver's  squaw  taking 

150 


THE  TRAIL   OF  THE   GODS  151 

part  in  the  search,  and  Mit-sah,  who  was  Gray 
Beaver's  son. 

White  Fang  trembled  with  fear,  and  though  the 
impulse  came  to  crawl  out  of  his  hiding-place,  he 
resisted  it.  After  a  time  the  voices  died  away,  and 
some  time  after  that  he  crept  out  to  enjoy  the  success 
of  his  undertaking.  Darkness  was  coming  on,  and 
for  a  while  he  played  about  among  the  trees,  pleas- 
uring in  his  freedom.  Then,  and  quite  suddenly,  he 
became  aware  of  loneliness.  He  sat  down  to  con- 
sider, listening  to  the  silence  of  the  forest  and  per- 
turbed by  it.  That  nothing  moved  nor  sounded, 
seemed  ominous.  He  felt  the  lurking  of  danger, 
unseen  and  unguessed.  He  was  suspicious  of  the 
looming  bulks  of  the  trees  and  of  the  dark  shadows 
that  might  conceal  all  manner  of  perilous  things. 

Then  it  was  cold.  Here  was  no  warm  side  of  a 
tepee  against  which  to  snuggle.  The  frost  was  in 
his  feet,  and  he  kept  lifting  first  one  fore-foot  and 
then  the  other.  He  curved  his  bushy  tail  around 
to  cover  them,  and  at  the  same  time  he  saw  a  vision. 
There  was  nothing  strange  about  it.  Upon  his 
inward  sight  was  impressed  a  succession  of  memory- 
pictures.  He  saw  the  camp  again,  the  tepees,  and 
the  blaze  of  the  fires.  He  heard  the  shrill  voices  of 
the  woman,  the  gruff  basses  of  the  men,  and  the 
snarling  of  the  dogs.  He  was  hungry,  and  he  remem- 
bered pieces  of  meat  and  fish  that  had  been  thrown 


152  WHITE   FANG 

him.  Here  was  no  meat,  nothing  but  a  threatening 
and  inedible  silence. 

His  bondage  had  softened  him.  Irresponsibility 
had  weakened  him.  He  had  forgotten  how  to  shift 
for  himself.  The  night  yawned  about  him.  His 
senses,  accustomed  to  the  hum  and  bustle  of  the 
camp,  used  to  the  continuous  impact  of  sights  and 
sounds,  were  now  left  idle.  There  was  nothing  to 
do,  nothing  to  see  nor  hear.  They  strained  to  catch 
some  interruption  of  the  silence  and  immobility  of 
nature.  They  were  appalled  by  inaction  and  by  the 
feel  of  something  terrible  impending. 

He  gave  a  great  start  of  fright.  A  colossal  and 
formless  something  was  rushing  across  the  field  of  his 
vision.  It  was  a  tree-shadow  flung  by  the  moon, 
from  whose  face  the  clouds  had  been  brushed  away. 
Reassured,  he  whimpered  softly  ;•  then  he  suppressed 
the  whimper  for  fear  that  it  might  attract  the  atten- 
tion of  the  lurking  dangers. 

A  tree,  contracting  in  the  cool  of  the  night,  made  a 
loud  noise.  It  was  directly  above  him.  He  yelped 
in  his  fright.  A  panic  seized  him,  and  he  ran  madly 
toward  the  village.  He  knew  an  overpowering  desire 
for  the  protection  and  companionship  of  man.  In  his 
nostrils  was  the  smell  of  the  camp-smoke.  In  his 
ears  the  camp  sounds  and  cries  were  ringing  loud. 
He  passed  out  of  the  forest  and  into  the  moonlit 
open  where  were  no  shadows    nor  darknesses.     But 


He  felt  the  lurking  of  danger,  unseen  and  unguessed. 


THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   GODS  163 

no  village  greeted  his  eyes.  He  had  forgotten.  The 
village  had  gone  away. 

His  wild  flight  ceased  abruptly.  There  was  no 
place  to  which  to  flee.  He  slunk  forlornly  through 
the  deserted  camp,  smelling  the  rubbish-heaps  and 
the  discarded  rags  and  tags  of  the  gods.  He  would 
have  been  glad  for  the  rattle  of  stones  about  him, 
flung  by  an  angry  squaw,  glad  for  the  hand  of  Gray 
Beaver  descending  upon  him  in  wrath ;  while  he 
would  have  welcomed  with  delight  Lip-lip  and  the 
whole  snarling,  cowardly  pack. 

He  came  to  where  Gray  Beaver's  tepee  had  stood. 
In  the  centre  of  the  space  it  had  occupied,  he  sat 
down.  He  pointed  his  nose  at  the  moon.  His  throat 
was  afflicted  by  rigid  spasms,  his  mouth  opened, 
and  in  a  heart-broken  cry  bubbled  up  his  loneliness 
and  fear,  his  grief  for  Kiche,  all  his  past  sorrows  and 
miseries  as  well  as  his  apprehension  of  suiferings  and 
dangers  to  come.  It  was  the  long  wolf-howl,  full- 
throated  and  mournful,  the  first  howl  he  had  ever 
uttered 

The  coming  of  daylight  dispelled  his  fears,  but 
increased  his  loneliness.  The  naked  earth,  which  so 
shortly  before  had  been  so  populous,  thrust  his  loneli- 
ness more  forcibly  upon  him.  It  did  not  take  him 
long  to  make  up  his  mind.  He  plunged  into  the 
forest  and  followed  the  river  bank  down  the  stream. 
All  day  he  ran.    He  did  not  rest.     He  seemed  made  to 


154  WHITE    FANG 

run  on  forever.  His  iron-like  body  ignored  fatigue. 
And  even  after  fatigue  came,  his  heritage  of  endurance 
braced  him  to  endless  endeavor  and  enabled  him  to 
drive  his  complaining  body  onw^ard. 

Where  the  river  swung  in  against  precipitous  bluffs, 
he  climbed  the  high  mountains  behind.  Rivers  and 
streams  that  entered  the  main  river  he  forded  or 
swam.  Often  he  took  to  the  rim-ice  that  was  begin- 
ning to  form,  and  more  than  once  he  crashed  through 
and  struggled  for  life  in  the  icy  current.  Always  he 
was  on  the  lookout  for  the  trail  of  the  gods  where  it 
might  leave  the  river  and  proceed  inland. 

White  Fang  was  intelligent  beyond  the  average  of 
his  kind ;  yet  his  mental  vision  was  not  wide  enough 
to  embrace  the  other  bank  of  the  Mackenzie.  What 
if  the  trail  of  the  gods  led  out  on  that  side  ?  It  never 
entered  his  head.  Later  on,  when  he  had  travelled 
more  and  grown  older  and  wiser  and  come  to  know 
more  of  trails  and  rivers,  it  might  be  that  he  could 
grasp  and  apprehend  such  a  possibility.  But  that 
mental  power  was  yet  in  the  future.  Just  now  he 
ran  blindly,  his  own  bank  of  the  Mackenzie  alone 
entering  into  his  calculations. 

All  night  he  ran,  blundering  in  the  darkness  into 
mishaps  and  obstacles  that  delayed  but  did  not  daunt. 
By  the  middle  of  the  second  day  he  had  been  running 
continuously  for  thirty  hours,  and  the  iron  of  his  flesh 
was  giving  out.     It  was  the  endurance  of  his  mind 


THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   GODS  155 

that  kept  him  going.  He  had  not  eaten  in  forty 
hours,  and  he  was  weak  with  hunger.  The  repeated 
drenchings  in  the  icy  w^ater  had  likewise  had  their 
effect  on  him.  His  handsome  coat  was  draggled. 
The  broad  pads  of  his  feet  were  bruised  and  bleeding. 
He  had  begun  to  limp,  and  this  limp  increased  wdth 
the  hours.  To  make  it  worse,  the  light  of  the 
sky  was  obscured  and  snow  began  to  fall  —  a  raw, 
moist,  melting,  clinging  snow,  slippery  under  foot,  that 
hid  from  him  the  landscape  he  traversed,  and  that 
covered  over  the  inequalities  of  the  ground  so  that 
the  way  of  his  feet  was  more  difficult  and  painful. 

Gray  Beaver  had  intended  camping  that  night  on 
the  far  bank  of  the  Mackenzie,  for  it  was  in  that 
direction  that  the  hunting  lay.  But  on  the  near 
bank,  shortly  before  dark,  a  moose,  coming  down  to 
drink,  had  been  espied  by  Kloo-kooch,  who  was  Gray 
Beaver's  squaw.  Now,  had  not  the  moose  come 
down  to  drink,  had  not  Mit-sah  been  steering  out  of 
the  course  because  of  the  snow,  had  not  Kloo-kooch 
sighted  the  moose,  and  had  not  Gray  Beaver  killed  it 
with  a  lucky  shot  from  his  rifle,  all  subsequent  things 
would  have  happened  differently.  Gray  Beaver  would 
not  have  camped  on  the  near  side  of  the  Mackenzie, 
and  White  Fang  w^ould  have  passed  by  and  gone 
on,  either  to  die  or  to  find  his  way  to  his  wild 
brothers  and  become  one  of  them,  —  a  w^olf  to  the  end 
of  his  days. 


156  WHITE   FANG 

Night  had  fallen.  The  snow  was  flying  more 
thickly,  and  White  Fang,  whimpering  softly  to  him- 
self as  he  stumbled  and  limped  along,  came  upon 
a  fresh  trail  in  the  snow.  So  fresh  was  it  that  he 
knew  it  immediately  for  what  it  was.  Whining 
with  eagerness,  he  followed  back  from  the  river  bank 
and  in  among  the  trees.  The  camp-sounds  came  to 
his  ears.  He  saw  the  blaze  of  the  fire,  Kloo-kooch 
cooking,  and  Gray  Beaver  squatting  on  his  hams  and 
mumbling  a  chunk  of  raw  tallow.  There  was  fresh 
meat  in  camp  ! 

White  Fang  expected  a  beating.  He  crouched  and 
bristled  a  little  at  the  thought  of  it.  Then  he  went 
forward  again.  He  feared  and  disliked  the  beating 
he  knew  to  be  waiting  for  him.  But  he  knew,  further, 
that  the  comfort  of  the  fire  would  be  his,  the  protec- 
tion of  the  gods,  the  companionship  of  the  dogs  —  the 
last,  a  companionship  of  enmity,  but  none  the  less  a 
companionship  and  satisfying  to  his  gregarious  needs. 

He  came  cringing  and  crawling  into  the  firelight. 
Gray  Beaver  saw  him,  and  stopped  munching  the 
tallow.  White  Fang  crawled  slowly,  cringing  and 
grovelling  in  the  abjectness  of  his  abasement  and  sub- 
mission. He  crawled  straight  toward  Gray  Beaver, 
every  inch  of  his  progress  becoming  slower  and  more 
painful.  At  last  he  lay  at  the  master's  feet,  into 
whose  possession  he  now  surrendered  himself,  volun- 
tarily, body  and  soul.     Of  his  own  choice,  he  came  in 


THE   TRAIL   OF   THE   GODS  157 

to  sit  by  man's  fire  and  to  be  ruled  by  him.  White 
Fang  trembled,  waiting  for  the  punishment  to  fall 
upon  him.  There  was  a  movement  of  the  hand  above 
him.  He  cringed  involuntarily  under  the  expected 
blow.  It  did  not  fall.  He  stole  a  glance  upward. 
Gray  Beaver  was  breaking  the  lump  of  tallow  in  half  ! 
Gray  Beaver  was  offering  him  one  piece  of  the  tallow  ! 
Very  gentl}^  and  somewhat  suspiciously,  he  first 
smelled  the  tallow  and  then  proceeded  to  eat  it. 
Gray  Beaver  ordered  meat  to  be  brought  to  him,  and 
guarded  him  from  the  other  dogs  while  he  ate.  After 
that,  grateful  and  content,  White  Fang  lay  at  Gray 
Beaver's  feet,  gazing  at  the  fire  that  warmed  him, 
blinking  and  dozing,  secure  in  the  knowledge  that 
the  morrow  would  find  him,  not  wandering  forlorn 
through  bleak  forest-stretches,  but  in  the  camp  of  the 
man-animals,  with  the  gods  to  whom  he  had  given 
himself  and  upon  whom  he  was  now  dependent. 


CHAPTER    V 


THE    COVENANT 


When  December  was  well  along,  Gray  Beaver 
went  on  a  journey  up  the  Mackenzie.  Mit-sah  and 
Kloo-kooch  went  with  him.  One  sled  he  drove  him- 
self, drawn  by  dogs  he  had  traded  for  or  borrowed. 
A  second  and  smaller  sled  was  driven  by  Mit-sah,  and 
to  this  was  harnessed  a  team  of  puppies.  It  was 
more  of  a  toy  affair  than  anything  else,  yet  it  was 
the  delight  of  Mit-sah,  who  felt  that  he  was  beginning 
to  do  a  man's  work  in  the  world.  Also,  he  was 
learning  to  drive  dogs  and  to  train  dogs ;  while  the 
puppies  themselves  were  being  broken  in  to  the  har- 
ness. Furthermore,  the  sled  was  of  some  service,  for 
it  carried  nearly  two  hundred  pounds  of  outfit  and 
food. 

White  Fang  had  seen  the  camp-dogs  toiling  in  the 
harness,  so  that  he  did  not  resent  overmuch  the  first 
placing  of  the  harness  upon  himself.  About  his  neck 
was  put  a  moss-stuffed  collar,  which  was  connected 
by  two  pulling-traces  to  a  strap  that  passed  around 
his  chest  and  over  his  back.  It  was  to  this  that  was 
fastened  the  long  rope  by  which  he  pulled  at  the  sled. 

158 


THE    COVENANT  159 

There  were  seven  puppies  in  the  team.  The  others 
had  been  boi'n  earlier  in  the  year  and  were  nine  and 
ten  months  old,  while  White  Fang  was  only  eight 
months  old.  Each  dog  was  fastened  to  the  sled  by 
a  single  rope.  No  two  ropes  were  of  the  same  length, 
while  the  difference  in  length  between  any  two  ropes 
was  at  least  that  of  a  dog's  body.  Every  rope  was 
brought  to  a  ring  at  the  front  end  of  the  sled. 
The  sled  itself  was  without  runners,  being  a  birch- 
bark  toboggan,  with  upturned  forward  end  to  keep 
it  from  ploughing  under  the  snow.  This  construction 
enabled  the  weight  of  the  sled  and  load  to  be  dis- 
tributed over  the  largest  snow-surface  ;  for  the  snow 
was  crystal-powder  and  very  soft.  Observing  the 
same  principle  of  widest  distribution  of  weight,  the 
dogs  at  the  ends  of  their  ropes  radiated  fan-fashion 
from  the  nose  of  the  sled,  so  that  no  dog  trod  in 
another's  footsteps. 

There  was,  furthermore,  another  virtue  in  the  fan- 
formation.  The  ropes  of  varying  length  prevented 
the  dogs'  attacking  from  the  rear  those  that  ran  in 
front  of  them.  For  a  dog  to  attack  another,  it 
would  have  to  turn  upon  one  at  a  shorter  rope.  In 
which  case  it  would  find  itself  face  to  face  with  tlie 
dog  attacked,  and  also  it  would  find  itself  facing 
the  whip  of  the  driver.  But  the  most  peculiar  virtue 
of  all  lay  in  the  fact  that  the  dog  that  strove  to 
attack  one  in  front  of  him   must  pull  the  sled  faster, 


160  WHITE   FANG 

and  that  the  faster  the  sled  travelled,  the  faster  could 
the  dog  attacked  run  away.  Thus,  the  dog  behind 
could  never  catch  up  with  the  one  in  front.  The 
faster  he  ran,  the  faster  ran  the  one  he  was  after,  and 
the  faster  ran  all  the  dogs.  Incidentally,  the  sled 
went  faster,  and  thus,  by  cunning  indirection,  did 
man  increase  his  mastery  over  the  beasts. 

Mit-sah  resembled  his  father,  much  of  whose  gray 
wisdom  he  possessed.  In  the  past  he  had  observed 
Lip-lip's  persecution  of  White  Fang ;  but  at  that  time 
Lip-lip  was  another  man's  dog,  and  Mit-sah  had 
never  dared  more  than  to  shy  an  occasional  stone  at 
him.  But  now  Lip-lip  was  his  dog,  and  he  proceeded 
to  wreak  his  vengeance  on  him  by  putting  him  at  the 
end  of  the  longest  rope.  This  made  Lip-lip  the  leader, 
and  was  apparently  an  honor ;  but  in  reality  it  took 
away  from  him  all  honor,  a.nd  instead  of  being  bully 
and  master  of  the  pack,  he  now  found  himself  hated 
and  persecuted  by  the  pack. 

Because  he  ran  at  the  end  of  the  longest  rope,  the 
dogs  had  always  the  view  of  him  running  away 
before  them.  All  that  they  saw  of  him  was  his 
bushy  tail  and  fleeing  hind  legs  —  a  view  far  less 
ferocious  and  intimidating  than  his  bristling  mane 
and  gleaming  fangs.  Also,  dogs  being  so  constituted 
in  their  mental  ways,  the  sight  of  him  running  away 
gave  desire  to  run  after  him  and  a  feeling  that  he  ran 
away  from  them. 


THE   COVENANT  161 

The  moment  the  sled  started,  the  team  took  after 
Lip-lip  in  a  chase  that  extended  throughout  the  day. 
At  first  he  had  been  prone  to  turn  upon  his  pursuers, 
jealous  of  his  dignity,  and  wrathful ;  but  at  such  times 
Mit-sah  would  throw  the  stinging  lash  of  the  thirty- 
foot  cariboo-gut  whip  into  his  face  and  compel  him 
to  turn  tail  and  run  on.  Lip-lip  might  face  the  pack, 
but  he  could  not  face  that  whip,  and  all  that  was  left 
him  to  do  was  to  keep  his  long  rope  taut  and  his 
flanks  ahead  of  the  teeth  of  his  mates. 

But  a  still  greater  cunning  lurked  in  the  recesses 
of  the  Indian  mind.  To  give  point  to  unending  pur- 
suit of  the  leader,  Mit-sah  favored  him  over  the 
other  dogs.  These  favors  aroused  in  them  jealousy 
and  hatred.  In  their  presence  Mit-sah  would  give 
him  meat  and  would  give  it  to  him  only.  This  was 
maddening  to  them.  They  would  rage  around  just 
outside  the  throwing-distance  of  the  whip,  while  Lip- 
lip  devoured  the  meat  and  Mit-sah  protected  him. 
And  when  there  was  no  meat  to  give,  Mit-sah  would 
keep  the  team  at  a  distance  and  make  believe  to  give 
meat  to  Lip-lip. 

White  Fang  took  kindly  to  the  work.  He  had 
travelled  a  greater  distance  than  the  other  dogs  in 
the  yielding  of  himself  to  the  rule  of  the  gods,  and  he 
had  learned  more  thoroughly  the  futility  of  opposing 
their  will.  In  addition,  the  persecution  he  had  suf- 
fered from  the  pack  had  made  the  pack  less  to  him 


162  WHITE   FANG 

in  the  scheme  of  things,  and  man  more.  He  had  not 
learned  to  be  dependent  on  his  kind  for  companion- 
ship. Besides,  Kiche  was  well-nigh  forgotten ;  and 
the  chief  outlet  of  expression  that  remained  to  him 
was  in  the  allegiance  he  tendered  the  gods  he  had 
accepted  as  masters.  So  he  worked  hard,  learned 
discipline,  and  was  obedient.  Faithfulness  and  will- 
ingness characterized  his  toil.  These  are  essential 
traits  of  the  wolf  and  the  wild-dog  when  they  have 
become  domesticated,  and  these  traits  White  Fang 
possessed  in  unusual  measure. 

A  companionship  did  exist  between  White  Fang 
and  the  other  dogs,  but  it  was  one  of  warfare  and 
enmity.  He  had  never  learned  to  play  with  them. 
He  knew  only  how  to  fight,  and  fight  with  them  he 
did,  returning  to  them  a  hundred-fold  the  snaps  and 
slashes  they  had  given  him  in  the  days  when  Lip-lip 
was  leader  of  the  pack.  But  Lip-lip  was  no  longer 
leader  —  except  when  he  fled  away  before  his  mates 
at  the  end  of  his  rope,  the  sled  bounding  along  be- 
hind. In  camp  he  kept  close  to  Mit-sah  or  Gray 
Beaver  or  Kloo-kooch.  He  did  not  dare  venture 
away  from  the  gods,  for  now  the  fangs  of  all  dogs 
were  against  him,  and  he  tasted  to  the  dregs  the 
persecution  that  had  been  White  Fang's. 

With  the  overthrow  of  Lip-lip,  White  Fang  could 
have  become  leader  of  the  pack.  But  he  was  too 
morose  and  solitary  for  that.      He  merely  thrashed 


THE   COVENANT  163 

his  team-mates.  Otherwise  he  ignored  them.  They 
got  out  of  his  way  when  he  came  along ;  nor  did  the 
boldest  of  them  ever  dare  to  rob  him  of  his  meat. 
On  the  contrary,  they  devoured  their  ow^n  meat 
hurriedly,  for  fear  that  he  would  take  it  away  from 
them.  White  Fang  knew  the  law  well :  to  oppress 
the  weak  and  ohey  the  strong.  He  ate  his  share  of 
meat  as  rapidly  as  he  could.  And  then  woe  the  dog 
that  had  not  yet  finished !  A  snarl  and  a  flash  of 
fangs,  and  that  dog  would  wail  his  indignation  to  the 
uncomforting  stars  while  White  Fang  finished  his 
portion  for  him. 

Every  little  while,  however,  one  dog  or  another 
would  flame  up  in  revolt  and  be  promptly  subdued. 
Thus  White  Fang  v/as  kept  in  training.  He  was 
jealous  of  the  isolation  in  which  he  kept  himself  in 
the  midst  of  the  pack,  and  he  fought  often  to  main- 
tain it.  But  such  fights  were  of  brief  duration.  He 
was  too  quick  for  the  others.  They  were  slashed 
open  and  bleeding  before  they  knew  what  had 
happened,  were  whipped  almost  before  they  had 
begun  to  fight. 

As  rigid  as  the  sled-discipline  of  the  gods,  was  the 
discipline  maintained  by  White  Fang  amongst  his 
fellows.  He  never  allowed  them  any  latitude.  He 
compelled  them  to  an  unremitting  respect  for  him. 
They  might  do  as  they  pleased  amongst  themselves. 
That  was  no  concern  of  his.     But  it  was  his  concern 


164  WHITE   FANG 

that  thej  leave  him  alone  in  his  isolation,  get  out 
of  his  way  when  he  elected  to  walk  among  them, 
and  at  all  times  acknowledge  his  mastery  over  them. 
A  hint  of  stilf-leggedness  on  their  part,  a  lifted  lip 
or  a  bristle  of  hair,  and  he  would  be  upon  them,  merci- 
less and  cruel,  swiftly  convincing  them  of  the  error 
of  their  way. 

He  was  a  monstrous  tyrant.  His  master^/-  was 
rigid  as  steel.  He  oppressed  the  weak  with  a  ven- 
geance. Not  for  nothing  had  he  been  exposed  to  the 
pitiless  struggle  for  life  in  the  days  of  his  cubhood, 
when  his  mother  and  he,  alone  and  unaided,  held 
their  own  and  survived  in  the  ferocious  environment 
of  the  Wild.  And  not  for  nothing  had  he  learned  to 
walk  softly  when  superior  strength  went  by.  He 
oppressed  the  weak,  but  he  respected  the  strong. 
And  in  the  course  of  the  long  journey  with  Gray 
Beaver  he  walked  softly  indeed  amongst  the  full- 
grown  dogs  in  the  camps  of  the  strange  man-animals 
they  encountered. 

The  months  passed  by.  Still  continued  the  journey 
of  Gray  Beaver.  White  Fang's  strength  was  de- 
veloped by  the  long  hours  on  trail  and  the  steady  toil 
at  the  sled  ;  and  it  would  have  seemed  that  his 
mental  development  was  well-nigh  complete.  He 
had  come  to  know  quite  thoroughly  the  world  in 
which  he  lived.  His  outlook  was  bleak  and  materi- 
alistic.    The  world  as  he  saw  it   was  a  fierce  and 


THE   COVENANT  165 

brutal  world,  a  world  without  warmth,  a  world  in 
which  caresses  and  affection  and  the  bright  sweet;- 
nesses  of  the  spirit  did  not  exist. 

He  had  no  affection  for  Gray  Beaver.  True,  he 
was  a  god,  but  a  most  savage  god.  White  Fang  was 
glad  to  acknowledge  his  lordship,  but  it  was  a  lord- 
ship based  upon  superior  intelligence  and  brute 
strength.  There  was  something  in  the  fibre  of 
White  Fang's  being  that  made  this  lordship  a 
thing  to  be  desired,  else  he  would  not  have  come 
back  from  the  Wild  when  he  did  to  tender  his 
allegiance.  There  were  deeps  in  his  nature  which 
had  never  been  sounded.  A  kind  word,  a  caressing 
touch  of  the  hand,  on  the  part  of  Gray  Beaver, 
might  have  sounded  these  deeps ;  but  Gray  Beaver 
did  not  caress  nor  speak  kind  words.  It  was  not 
his  way.  His  primacy  was  savage,  and  savagely 
he  ruled,  administering  justice  with  a  club,  punishing 
transgression  with  the  pain  of  a  blow,  and  rewarding 
merit,  not  by  kindness,  but  by  withholding  a  blow. 

So  White  Fang  knew  nothing  of  the  heaven  a 
man's  hand  might  contain  for  him.  Besides,  he  did 
not  like  the  hands  of  the  man-animals.  He  was 
suspicious  of  them.  It  was  true  that  they  sometimes 
gave  meat,  but  more  often  they  gave  hurt.  Hands 
were  things  to  keep  away  from.  They  hurled  stones, 
wielded  sticks  and  clubs  and  whips,  administered 
slaps  and  clouts,  and,  when  they  touched  him,  were 


166  WHITE    FANG 

cunning  to  hurt  with  pinch  and  twist  and  wrench. 
In  strange  villages  he  had  encountered  the  hands 
of  the  children  and  learned  that  they  were  cruel  to 
hurt.  Also,  he  had  once  nearly  had  an  eye  poked 
out  by  a  toddling  papoose.  From  these  experiences 
he  became  suspicious  of  all  children.  He  could  not 
tolerate  them.  When  they  came  near  with  their 
ominous  hands,  he  got  up. 

It  was  in  a  village  at  the  Great  Slave  Lake,  that, 
in  the  course  of  resenting  the  evil  of  the  hands  of  the 
man-animals,  he  came  to  modify  the  law  that  he  had 
learned  from  Gray  Beaver ;  namely,  that  the  unpar- 
donable crime  was  to  bite  one  of  the  gods.  In  this 
village,  after  the  custom  of  all  dogs  in  all  villages. 
White  Fang  went  foraging  for  food.  A  boy  was 
chopping  frozen  moose-meat  with  an  axe,  and  the 
chips  were  flying  in  the  snow.  White  Fang,  sliding 
by  in  quest  of  meat,  stopped  and  began  to  eat  the 
chips.  He  observed  the  boy  lay  down  the  axe  and 
take  up  a  stout  club.  White  Fang  sprang  clear,  just 
in  time  to  escape  the  descending  blow.  The  boy 
pursued  him,  and  he,  a  stranger  in  the  village,  fled 
between  two  tepees,  to  find  himself  cornered  against 
a  high  earth  bank. 

There  was  no  escape  for  White  Fang.  The  only 
w^ay  out  was  between  the  two  tepees,  and  this  the  boy 
guarded.  Holding  his  club  prepared  to  strike,  he 
drew  in  on  his  cornered  quarry.     White  Fang  was 


THE   COVENANT  167 

furious.  He  faced  the  bo}^,  bristling  and  snarling, 
his  sense  of  justice  outraged.  He  knew  the  law  of 
forage.  All  the  wastage  of  meat,  such  as  the  frozen 
chips,  belonged  to  the  dog  that  found  it.  He  had 
done  no  wrong,  broken  no  law,  yet  here  was  this 
boy  preparing  to  give  him  a  beating.  White  Fang 
scarcely  knew  what  happened.  He  did  it  in  a  surge 
of  rage.  And  he  did  it  so  quickly  that  the  boy  did 
not  know,  either.  All  the  boy  knew  was  that  he  had 
in  some  unaccountable  way  been  overturned  into  the 
snow,  and  that  his  club-hand  had  been  ripped  wide 
open  by  White  Fang's  teeth. 

But  White  Fang  knew^  that  he  had  broken  the  law^ 
of  the  gods.  He  had  driven  his  teeth  into  the  sacred 
flesh  of  one  of  them,  and  could  expect  nothing  but 
a  most  terrible  punishment.  He  fled  away  to  Gray 
Beaver,  behind  whose  protecting  legs  he  crouched 
when  the  bitten  boy  and  the  boy's  family  came, 
demanding  vengeance.  But  they  went  away  with 
vengeance  unsatisfied.  Gray  Beaver  defended  White 
Fang.  So  did  Mit-sah  and  Kloo-kooch.  White  Fang, 
listening  to  the  wordy  war  and  watching  the  angry 
gestures,  knew  that  his  act  was  justified.  And  so 
it  came  that  he  learned  there  were  gods  and  gods. 
There  were  his  gods,  and  there  were  other  gods,  and 
between  them  there  was  a  difference.  Justice  or  in- 
justice, it  was  all  the  same,  he  must  take  all  things 
from  the  hands  of  his  own  gods.     But  he  was  not 


168  WHITE    FANG 

compelled  to  take  injustice  from  the  other  gods.  It 
was  his  privilege  to  resent  it  with  his  teeth.  And 
this  also  was  a  law  of  the  gods. 

Before  the  day  was  out,  White  Fang  was  to  learn 
more  about  this  law.  Mit-sah,  alone,  gathering  fire- 
wood in  the  forest,  encountered  the  boy  that  had 
been  bitten.  With  him  were  other  boys.  Hot  words 
passed.  Then  all  the  boys  attacked  Mit-sah.  It  was 
going  hard  with  him.  Blows  were  raining  upon  him 
from  all  sides.  W^hite  Fang  looked  on  at  first.  This 
was  an  affair  of  the  gods,  and  no  concern  of  his. 
Then  he  realized  that  this  was  Mit-sah,  one  of  his 
own  particular  gods,  who  was  being  maltreated.  It 
was  no  reasoned  impulse  that  made  White  Fang  do 
what  he  then  did.  A  mad  rush  of  anger  sent  him 
leaping  in  amongst  the  combatants.  Five  minutes 
later  the  landscape  was  covered  with  fleeing  boys, 
many  of  whom  dripped  blood  upon  the  snow  in  token 
that  White  Fang's  teeth  had  not  been  idle.  When 
Mit-sah  told  his  story  in  camp,  Gray  Beaver  ordered 
meat  to  be  given  to  White  Fang.  He  ordered  much 
meat  to  be  given,  and  White  Fang,  gorged  and  sleepy 
by  the  fire,  knew  that  the  law  had  received  its  veri- 
fication. 

It  was  in  line  with  these  experiences  that  White 
Fang  came  to  learn  the  law  of  property  and  the 
duty  of  the  defence  of  property.  From  the  protec- 
tion of  his  god's  body  to  the  protection  of  his  god's 


THE   COVENANT  169 

possessions  was  a  step,  and  this  step  he  made.  What 
was  his  god's  was  to  be  defended  against  all  the 
world  —  even  to  the  extent  of  biting  other  gods. 
Not  only  was  such  an  act  sacrilegious  in  its  nature, 
but  it  was  fraught  with  peril.  The  gods  were  all- 
powerful,  and  a  dog  was  no  match  against  them  ;  yet 
White  Fang  learned  to  face  them,  fiercely  belligerent 
and  unafraid.  Duty  rose  above  fear,  and  thieving 
gods  learned  to  leave  Gray  Beaver's  property  alone. 

One  thing,  in  this  connection.  White  Fang  quickly 
learned,  and  that  was  that  a  thieving  god  was  usually 
a  cowardly  god  and  prone  to  run  away  at  the  sound- 
ing of  the  alarm.  Also,  he  learned  that  but  brief 
time  elapsed  between  his  sounding  of  the  alarm  and 
Gray  Beaver's  coming  to  his  aid.  He  came  to  know 
that  it  was  not  fear  of  him  that  drove  the  thief  away, 
but  fear  of  Gray  Beaver.  White  Fang  did  not  give 
the  alarm  by  barking.  He  never  barked.  His  method 
was  to  drive  straight  at  the  intruder,  and  to  sink 
his  teeth  in  if  he  could.  Because  he  was  morose 
and  solitary,  having  nothing  to  do  with  the  other 
dogs,  he  was  unusually  fitted  to  guard  his  master's 
property ;  and  in  this  he  was  encouraged  and  trained 
by  Gray  Beaver.  One  result  of  this  was  to  make 
White  Fang  more  ferocious  and  indomitable,  and 
more  solitary. 

The  months  went  by,  binding  stronger  and  stronger 
the  covenant  between  dog  and  man.     This  was  the 


170  WHITE   FANG 

ancient  covenant  that  the  first  wolf  that  came  in  from 
the  Wild  entered  into  with  man.  And,  like  all  suc- 
ceeding wolves  and  wild  dogs  that  had  done  likewise, 
White  Fang  worked  the  covenant  out  for  himself. 
The  terms  were  simple.  For  the  possession  of  a  flesh- 
and-blood  god,  he  exchanged  his  own  liberty.  Food 
and  fire,  protection  and  companionship,  were  some 
of  the  things  he  received  from  the  god.  In  return, 
he  guarded  the  god's  property,  defended  his  body, 
worked  for  him,  and  obeyed  him. 

The  possession  of  a  god  implies  service.  White 
Fang's  was  a  service  of  duty  and  awe,  but  not  of 
love.  He  did  not  know  what  love  was.  He  had  no 
experience  of  love.  Kiche  was  a  remote  memory. 
Besides,  not  only  had  he  abandoned  the  Wild  and 
his  kind  when  he  gave  himself  up  to  man,  but  the 
terms  of  the  covenant  were  such  that  if  he  ever  met 
Kiche  again  he  would  not  desert  his  god  to  go  with 
her.  His  allegiance  to  man  seemed  somehow  a  law 
of  his  being  greater  than  the  love  of  liberty,  of  kind 
and  kin. 


CHAPTER   VI 


THE    FAMINE 


The  spring  of  the  year  was  at  hand  when  Gray 
Beaver  finished  his  long  journey.  It  was  April,  and 
White  Fang  was  a  year  old  when  he  pulled  into  the 
home  village  and  was  loosed  from  the  harness  by 
Mit-sah.  Though  a  long  way  from  his  full  growth, 
White  Fang,  next  to  Lip-lip,  was  the  largest  yearling 
in  the  village.  Both  from  his  father,  the  wolf,  and 
from  Kiche,  he  had  inherited  stature  and  strength, 
and  already  he  was  measuring  up  alongside  the  full- 
grown  dogs.  But  he  had  not  yet  grown  compact. 
His  body  was  slender  and  rangy,  and  his  strength 
more  stringy  than  massive.  His  coat  was  the  true 
wolf-gray,  and  to  all  appearances  he  was  true  wolf 
himself.  The  quarter-strain  of  dog  he  had  inherited 
from  Kiche  had  left  no  mark  on  him  physically, 
though  it  played  its  part  in  his  mental  make-up. 

He  wandered  through  the  village,  recognizing  with 
staid  satisfaction  the  various  gods  he  had  known 
before  the  long  journey.  Then  there  were  the  dogs, 
puppies  growing  up  like  himself,  and  grown  dogs  that 

171 


172  WHITE   FANG 

did  not  look  so  large  and  formidable  as  the  memory- 
pictures  he  retained  of  them.  Also,  he  stood  less  in 
fear  of  them  than  formerly,  stalking  among  them 
with  a  certain  careless  ease  that  was  as  new  to  him 
as  it  was  enjoyable. 

There  was  Baseek,  a  grizzled  old  fellow  that  in 
his  younger  days  had  but  to  uncover  his  fangs  to 
send  White  Fang  cringing  and  crouching  to  the  right- 
about. From  him  White  Fang  had  learned  much  of 
his  own  insignificance ;  and  from  him  he  was  now 
to  learn  much  of  the  change  and  development  that 
had  taken  place  in  himself.  While  Baseek  had  been 
growing  weaker  with  age.  White  Fang  had  been 
growing  stronger  with  youth. 

It  was  at  the  cutting-up  of  a  moose,  fresh-killed, 
that  White  Fang  learned  of  the  changed  relations  in 
which  he  stood  to  the  dog-world.  He  had  got  for 
himself  a  hoof  and  part  of  the  shin-bone,  to  which 
quite  a  bit  of  meat  was  attached.  Withdrawn  from 
the  immediate  scramble  of  the  other  dogs,  —  in  fact, 
out  of  sight  behind  a  thicket,  —  he  was  devouring  his 
prize,  when  Baseek  rushed  in  upon  him.  Before  he 
knew  what  he  was  doing,  he  had  slashed  the  intruder 
twice  and  sprung  clear.  Baseek  was  surprised  by  the 
other's  temerity  and  swiftness  of  attack.  He  stood, 
gazing  stupidly  across  at  White  Fang,  the  raw,  red 
shin-bone  between  them. 

Baseek  was  old,  and  already  he  had  come  to  know 


THE   FAMINE  173 

the  increasing  valor  of  the  dogs  it  had  been  his  wont 
to  bully.  Bitter  experiences  these,  which,  perforce, 
he  swallowed,  calling  upon  all  his  wisdom  to  cope 
with  them.  In  the  old  days,  he  would  have  sprung 
upon  White  Fang  in  a  fury  of  righteous  wrath.  But 
now  his  waning  powers  would  not  permit  such  a 
course.  He  bristled  fiercely  and  looked  ominously 
across  the  shin-bone  at  White  Fang.  And  White 
Fang,  resurrecting  quite  a  deal  of  the  old  awe, 
seemed  to  wilt  and  to  shrink  in  upon  himself  and 
grow  small,  as  he  cast  about  in  his  mind  for  a  way 
to  beat  a  retreat  not  too  inglorious. 

And  right  here  Baseek  erred.  Had  he  contented 
himself  with  looking  fierce  and  ominous,  all  would 
have  been  well.  White  Fang,  on  the  verge  of  re- 
treat, would  have  retreated,  leaving  the  meat  to  him. 
But  Baseek  did  not  wait.  He  considered  the  victory 
already  his  and  stepped  forward  to  the  meat.  As 
he  bent  his  head  carelessly  to  smell  it.  White  Fang 
bristled  slightly.  Even  then  it  was  not  too  late  for 
Baseek  to  retrieve  the  situation.  Had  he  merely 
stood  over  the  meat,  head  up  and  glowering,  White 
Fang  would  ultimately  have  slunk  away.  But  the 
fresh  meat  was  strong  in  Baseek's  nostrils,  and  greed 
urged  him  to  take  a  bite  of  it. 

This  was  too  much  for  White  Fang.  Fresh  upon 
his  months  of  mastery  over  his  own  team-mates,  it 
was  beyond  his  self-control  to  stand   idly  by  while 


174  WHITE   FANG 

another  devoured  the  meat  that  belonged  to  him. 
He  struck,  after  his  custom,  without  warning.  With 
the  first  slash,  Baseek's  right  ear  was  ripped  into 
ribbons.  He  was  astounded  at  the  suddenness  of 
it.  But  more  things,  and  most  grievous  ones,  were 
happening  with  equal  suddenness.  He  was  knocked 
off  his  feet.  His  throat  was  bitten.  While  he  was 
struggling  to  his  feet  the  young  dog  sank  teeth  twice 
into  his  shoulder.  The  swiftness  of  it  was  bewilder- 
ing. He  made  a  futile  rush  at  White  Fang,  clipping 
the  empty  air  with  an  outraged  snap.  The  next 
moment  his  nose  was  laid  open  and  he  was  stag- 
gering backward  away  from  the  meat. 

The  situation  was  now  reversed.  White  Fang 
stood  over  the  shin-bone,  bristling  and  menacing, 
while  Baseek  stood  a  little  way  off,  preparing  to  re- 
treat. He  dared  not  risk  a  fight  with  this  young 
lightning-flash,  and  again  he  knew,  and  more  bitterly, 
the  enfeeblement  of  oncoming  age.  His  attempt  to 
maintain  his  dignity  was  heroic.  Calmly  turning  his 
back  upon  young  dog  and  shin-bone,  as  though  both 
were  beneath  his  notice  and  unw^orthy  of  considera- 
tion, he  stalked  grandly  away.  Nor,  until  well  out 
of  sight,  did  he  stop  to  lick  his  bleeding  wounds. 

The  effect  on  White  Fang  was  to  give  him  a 
greater  faith  in  himself,  and  a  greater  pride.  He 
walked  less  softly  among  the  grown  dogs ;  his  at- 
titude   toward    them  was  less  compromising.       Not 


THE   FAMINE  176 

that  he  went  out  of  his  way  lookmg  for  trouble.  Far 
from  it.  But  upon  his  way  he  demanded  consideration. 
He  stood  upon  his  right  to  go  his  way  unmolested 
and  to  give  trail  to  no  dog.  He  had  to  be  taken  into 
account,  that  was  all.  He  was  no  longer  to  be  dis- 
regarded and  ignored,  as  was  the  lot  of  puppies  and 
as  continued  to  be  the  lot  of  the  puppies  that  were 
his  team-mates.  They  got  out  of  the  way,  gave  trail 
to  the  grown  dogs,  and  gave  up  meat  to  them  under 
compulsion.  But  White  Fang,  uncompanionable,  soli- 
tary, morose,  scarcely  looking  to  right  or  left,  re- 
doubtable, forbidding  of  aspect,  remote  and  alien, 
was  accepted  as  an  equal  by  his  puzzled  elders.  They 
quickly  learned  to  leave  him  alone,  neither  venturing 
hostile  acts  nor  making  overtures  of  friendliness.  If 
they  left  him  alone,  he  left  them  alone  —  a  state  of 
affairs  that  they  found,  after  a  few  encounters,  to  be 
preeminently  desirable. 

In  midsummer  White  Fang  had  an  experience. 
Trotting  along  in  his  silent  way  to  investigate  a  new 
tepee  which  had  been  erected  on  the  edge  of  the 
village  while  he  was  away  with  the  hunters  after 
moose,  he  came  full  upon  Kiche.  He  paused  and 
looked  at  her.  He  remembered  her  vaguely,  but  he 
remembered  her,  and  that  was  more  than  could  be  said 
for  her.  She  lifted  her  lip  at  him  in  the  old  snarl  of 
menace,  and  his  memory  became  clear.  His  for- 
gotten  cubhood,  all    that  was  associated  with    that 


176  WHITE   FANG 

familiar  snarl,  rushed  back  to  him.  Before  he  had 
known  the  gods,  she  had  been  to  him  the  centre-pin 
of  the  universe.  The  old  familiar  feelings  of  that 
time  came  back  upon  him,  surged  up  within  him. 
He  bounded  toward  her  joyously,  and  she  met  him 
with  shrewd  fangs  that  laid  his  cheek  open  to  the 
bone.  He  did  not  understand.  He  backed  away, 
bewildered  and  puzzled. 

But  it  was  not  Kiche's  fault.  A  wolf-mother  was 
not  made  to  remember  her  cubs  of  a  year  or  so  before. 
So  she  did  not  remember  White  Fang.  He  was  a 
strange  animal,  an  intruder ;  and  her  present  litter  of 
puppies  gave  her  the  right  to  resent  such  intrusion. 

One  of  the  puppies  sprawled  up  to  White  Fang. 
They  were  half-brothers,  only  they  did  not  know  it. 
White  Fang  sniffed  the  puppy  curiously,  whereupon 
Kiche  rushed  upon  him,  gashing  his  face  a  second 
time.  He  backed  farther  away.  All  the  old  memo- 
ries and  associations  died  down  again  and  passed 
into  the  grave  from  which  they  had  been  resurrected. 
He  looked  at  Kiche  licking  her  puppy  and  stopping 
now  and  then  to  snarl  at  him.  She  was  without 
value  to  him.  He  had  learned  to  get  along  without 
her.  Her  meaning  was  forgotten.  There  was  no 
place  for  her  in  his  scheme  of  things,  as  there  was  no 
place  for  him  in  hers. 

He  was  still  standing,  stupid  and  bewildered,  the 
memories  forgotten,  wondering  what  it  was  all  about, 


THE   FAMINE  177 

when  Kiche  attacked  him  a  third  time,  intent  on 
driving  him  away  altogether  from  the  vicinity.  And 
White  Fang  allowed  himself  to  be  driven  away. 
This  was  a  female  of  his  kind,  and  it  was  a  law  of 
his  kind  that  the  males  must  not  fight  the  females. 
He  did  not  know  anything  about  this  law,  for  it  was 
no  generalization  of  the  mind,  not  a  something  ac- 
quired by  experience  in  the  world.  He  knew  it  as 
a  secret  prompting,  as  an  urge  of  instinct  —  of  the 
same  instinct  that  made  him  howl  at  the  moon  and 
stars  of  nights  and  that  made  him  fear  death  and  the 
unknown. 

The  months  went  by.  White  Fang  grew  stronger, 
heavier,  and  more  compact,  while  his  character  was 
developing  along  the  lines  laid  down  by  his  heredity 
and  his  environment.  His  heredity  was  a  life-stuff 
that  may  be  likened  to  clay.  It  possessed  many 
possibilities,  was  capable  of  being  moulded  into  many 
different  forms.  Environment  served  to  model  the 
clay,  to  give  it  a  particular  form.  Thus,  had  White 
Fang  never  come  in  to  the  fires  of  man,  the  Wild 
would  have  moulded  him  into  a  true  wolf.  But  the 
gods  had  given  him  a  different  environment,  and  he 
was  moulded  into  a  dog  that  was  rather  w^olfish,  but 
that  was  a  dog  and  not  a  wolf. 

And  so,  according  to  the  clay  of  his  nature  and  the 
pressure  of  his  surroundings,  his  character  was  being 
moulded  into  a  certain  particular  shape.     There  was 


178  WHITE   FANG 

no  escaping  it.  He  was  becoming  more  morose,  more 
uncompanionable,  more  solitary,  more  ferocious ; 
while  the  dogs  were  learning  more  and  more  that  it 
was  better  to  be  at  peace  with  him  than  at  war,  and 
Gray  Beaver  was  coming  to  prize  him  more  greatly 
with  the  passage  of  each  day. 

White  Fang,  seeming  to  sum  up  strength  in  all  his 
qualities,  nevertheless  suffered  from  one  besetting 
weakness.  He  could  not  stand  being  laughed  at. 
The  laughter  of  men  was  a  hateful  thing.  They 
might  laugh  among  themselves  about  anything  they 
pleased  except  himself,  and  he  did  not  mind.  But 
the  moment  laughter  was  turned  upon  him  he  would 
fly  into  a  most  terrible  rage.  Grave,  dignified, 
sombre,  a  laugh  made  him  frantic  to  ridiculousness. 
It  so  outraged  him  and  upset  him  that  for  hours  he 
would  behave  like  a  demon.  And  woe  to  the  dog 
that  at  such  times  ran  foul  of  him.  He  knew  the 
law  too  well  to  take  it  out  on  Gray  Beaver ;  behind 
Gray  Beaver  were  a  club  and  god-head.  But  behind 
the  dogs  there  was  nothing  but  space,  and  into  this 
space  they  fled  when  White  Fang  came  on  the  scene, 
made  mad  by  laughter. 

In  the  third  year  of  his  life  there  came  a  great 
famine  to  the  Mackenzie  Indians.  In  the  summer 
the  fish  failed.  In  the  winter  the  carib(  *j  forsook  their 
accustomed  track.  Moose  were  scarce,  the  rabbits 
almost    disappeared,   hunting   and    preying    animals 


THE   FAMINE  179 

perished.  Denied  their  usual  food-supply,  weakened 
by  hunger,  they  fell  upon  and  devoured  one  another. 
Only  the  strong  survived.  White  Fang's  gods  vs^ere 
also  hunting  animals.  The  old  and  the  weak  of 
them  died  of  hunger.  There  was  wailing  in  the 
village,  where  the  women  and  children  went  without 
in  order  that  what  little  they  had  might  go  into  the 
bellies  of  the  lean  and  hollow-eyed  hunters  who  trod 
the  forest  in  the  vain  pursuit  of  meat. 

To  such  extremity  were  the  gods  driven  that  they 
ate  the  soft-tanned  leather  of  their  moccasins  and 
mittens,  while  the  dogs  ate  the  harnesses  off  their 
backs  and  the  very  whip-lashes.  Also,  the  dogs  ate 
one  another,  and  also  the  gods  ate  the  dogs.  The 
weakest  and  the  more  worthless  were  eaten  first. 
The  dogs  that  still  lived,  looked  on  and  understood. 
A  few  of  the  boldest  and  wisest  forsook  the  fires  of 
the  gods,  which  had  now  become  a  shambles,  and 
fled  into  the  forest,  where,  in  the  end,  they  starved  to 
death  or  were  eaten  by  wolves. 

In  this  time  of  misery.  White  Fang,  too,  stole  away 
into  the  woods.  He  was  better  fitted  for  the  life 
than  the  other  dogs,  for  he  had  the  training  of  his 
cubhood  to  guide  him.  Especially  adept  did  he 
become  in  stalking  small  living  things.  He  would  lie 
concealed  for  hours,  following  every  movement  of 
a  cautious  tree-squirrel,  waiting,  with  a  patience  as 
huge  as  the  hunger  he  suffered  from,  until  the  squirrel 


180  WHITE   FANG 

ventured  out  upon  the  ground.  Even  then,  White 
Fang  was  not  premature.  He  waited  until  he  was 
sure  of  striking  before  the  squirrel  could  gain  a  tree- 
refuge.  Then,  and  not  until  then,  would  he  flash 
from  his  hiding-place,  a  gray  projectile,  incredibly 
swift,  never  failing  its  mark  —  the  fleeing  squirrel 
that  fled  not  fast  enough. 

Successful  as  he  was  with  squirrels,  there  was  one 
difficulty  that  prevented  him  from  living  and  growing 
fat  on  them.  There  were  not  enough  squirrels.  So 
he  was  driven  to  hunt  still  smaller  things.  So  acute 
did  his  hunger  become  at  times  that  he  was  not 
above  rooting  out  wood-mice  from  their  burrows  in 
the  ground.  Nor  did  he  scorn  to  do  battle  with  a 
weasel  as  hungry  as  himself  and  many  times  more 
ferocious. 

In  the  worst  pinches  of  the  famine  he  stole  back  to 
the  fires  of  the  gods.  But  he  did  not  go  in  to  the 
fires.  He  lurked  in  the  forest,  avoiding  discovery  and 
robbing  the  snares  at  the  rare  intervals  when  game 
was  caught.  He  even  robbed  Gray  Beaver's  snare  of 
a  rabbit  at  a  time  when  Gray  Beaver  staggered  and 
tottered  through  the  forest,  sitting  down  often  to  rest, 
w^hat  of  weakness  and  of  shortness  of  breath. 

One  day  White  Fang  encountered  a  young  wolf, 
gaunt  and  scrawny,  loose-jointed  with  famine.  Had 
he  not  been  hungry  himself.  White  Fang  might  have 
gone  with  him  and  eventually  found  his  way  into  the 


THE    FAMINE  181 

pack  amongst  his  wild  brethren.  As  it  was,  he  ran 
the  young  wolf  down  and  killed  and  ate  him. 

Fortune  seemed  to  favor  him.  Always,  when 
hardest  pressed  for  food,  he  found  something  to  kilL 
Again,  when  he  was  weak,  it  was  his  luck  that  none 
of  the  larger  preying  animals  chanced  upon  him. 
Thus,  he  was  strong  from  the  two  days'  eating  a  lynx 
had  afforded  him,  when  the  hungry  wolf-pack  ran 
full  tilt  upon  him.  It  was  a  long,  cruel  chase,  but  he 
was  better  nourished  than  they,  and  in  the  end  out- 
ran them.  And  not  only  did  he  outrun  them,  but, 
circling  widely  back  on  his  track,  he  gathered  in  one 
of  his  exhausted  pursuers. 

After  that  he  left  that  part  of  the  country  and 
journeyed  over  to  the  valley  wherein  he  had  been 
born.  Here,  in  the  old  lair,  he  encountered  Kiche. 
Up  to  her  old  tricks,  she,  too,  had  fled  the  inhospi- 
table iires  of  the  gods  and  gone  back  to  her  old  refuge 
to  give  birth  to  her  young.  Of  this  litter  but  one 
remained  alive  when  White  Fang  came  upon  the 
scene,  and  this  one  was  not  destined  to  live  long. 
Young  life  had  little  chance  in  such  a  famine. 

Kiche's  greeting  of  her  grown  son  was  anything 
but  affectionate.  But  White  Fang  did  not  mind. 
He  had  outgrown  his  mother.  So  he  turned  tail 
philosophically  and  trotted  on  up  the  stream.  At  the 
forks  he  took  the  turning  to  the  left,  where  he  found 
the  lair  of  the  lynx  with  whom  his  mother   and  he 


182  WHITE   FANG 

had  fought  long  before.  Here,  in  the  abandoned  lair, 
he  settled  down  and  rested  for  a  day. 

During  the  early  summer,  in  the  last  days  of  the 
famine,  he  met  Lip-lip,  who  had  likewise  taken  to  the 
woods,  where  he  had  eked  out  a  miserable  existence. 
White  Fang  came  upon  him  unexpectedly.  Trotting 
in  opposite  directions  along  the  base  of  a  high  bluff, 
they  rounded  a  corner  of  rock  and  found  themselves 
face  to  face.  They  paused  with  instant  alarm,  and 
looked  at  each  other  suspiciously. 

White  Fang  was  in  splendid  condition.  His  hunt- 
ing had  been  good,  and  for  a  week  he  had  eaten  his 
fill.  He  was  even  gorged  from  his  latest  kill.  But 
in  the  moment  he  looked  at  Lip-lip  his  hair  rose  on 
end  all  along  his  back.  It  was  an  involuntary  bris- 
tling on  his  part,  the  physical  state  that  in  the  past 
had  always  accompanied  the  mental  state  produced 
in  him  by  Lip-lip's  bullying  and  persecution.  As  in 
the  past  he  had  bristled  and  snarled  at  sight  of 
Lip-lip,  so  now,  and  automatically,  he  bristled  and 
snarled.  He  did  not  waste  any  time.  The  thing 
was  done  thoroughly  and  with  despatch.  Lip-lip 
essayed  to  back  away,  but  White  Fang  struck  him 
hard,  shoulder  to  shoulder.  Lip-lip  was  overthrown 
and  rolled  upon  his  back.  White  Fang's  teeth  drove 
into  the  scrawmy  throat.  There  was  a  death-struggle, 
during  which  White  Fang  walked  around,  stiff-legged 
and  observant.  Then  he  resumed  his  course  and 
trotted  on  along  the  base  of  the  bluff. 


I 


THE   FAMINE  183 

One  day,  not  long  after,  he  came  to  the  edge  of  the 
forest,  where  a  narrow  stretch  of  open  land  sloped 
down  to  the  Mackenzie.  He  had  been  over  this 
ground  before,  when  it  was  bare,  but  now  a  village 
occupied  it.  Still  hidden  amongst  the  trees,  he 
paused  to  study  the  situation.  Sights  and  sounds 
and  scents  were  familiar  to  him.  It  was  the  old  vil- 
lage changed  to  a  new  place.  But  sights  and  sounds  and 
smells  were  different  from  those  he  had  last  had  when 
he  fled  away  from  it.  There  was  no  whimpering  nor 
wailing.  Contented  sounds  saluted  his  ear,  and  when 
he  heard  the  angry  voice  of  a  woman  he  knew  it  to 
be  the  anger  that  proceeds  from  a  full  stomach.  And 
there  was  a  smell  in  the  air  of  fish.  There  was  food. 
The  famine  was  gone.  He  came  out  boldly  from  the 
forest  and  trotted  into  camp  straight  to  Gray  Beaver's 
tepee.  Gray  Beaver  was  not  there  ;  but  Kloo-kooch 
welcomed  him  with  glad  cries  and  the  whole  of  a 
fresh-caught  fish,  and  he  lay  down  to  wait  Gray 
Beaver's  coming. 


PAET   FOUR 


THE  SUPERIOR  GODS 


Chapter  1 
Chapter  II 
Chapter  III 
Chapter  IV 
Chapter  V 
Chapter  VI 


The  Enemy  of  his  Kind 
The  Mad  God 
The  Reign  of  Hate 
The  Clinging  Death 
The  Indomitable 
The  Love-Master 


CHAPTER   I 


THE   ENEMY   OF    HIS    KIND 


Had  there  been  in  White  Fang's  nature  any  possi- 
bility, no  matter  how  remote,  of  his  ever  coming  to 
fraternize  with  his  kind,  such  possibility  was  irre- 
trievably destroyed  when  he  w^as  made  leader  of  the 
sled-team.  For  now  the  dogs  hated  him  —  hated  him 
for  the  extra  meat  bestowed  upon  him  by  Mit-sah  ; 
hated  him  for  all  the  real  and  fancied  favors  he 
received  ;  hated  him  for  that  he  fled  always  at  the 
head  of  the  team,  his  waving  brush  of  a  tail  and 
his  perpetually  retreating  hind-quarters  forever  mad- 
dening their  eyes. 

And  White  Fang  just  as  bitterly  hated  them  back. 
Being  sled-leader  was  anything  but  gratifying  to  him. 
To  be  compelled  to  run  away  before  the  yelling  pack, 
every  dog  of  which,  for  three  years,  he  had  thrashed 
and  mastered,  was  almost  more  than  he  could  endure. 
But  endure  it  he  must,  or  perish,  and  the  life  that 
was  in  him  had  no  desire  to  perish.  The  moment 
Mit-sah  gave  his  order  for  the  start,  that  moment 
the  whole  team,  with  eager,  savage  cries,  sprang 
forward  at  White  Fang.     . 

187 


188  WHITE   FANG 

There  was  no  defence  for  him.  If  he  turned  upon 
them,  Mit-sah  would  throw  the  stingmg  lash  of  the 
whip  into  his  face.  Only  remained  to  him  to  run 
away.  He  could  not  encounter  that  howling  horde 
with  his  tail  and  hind-quarters.  These  were  scarcely 
fit  weapons  with  which  to  meet  the  many  merciless 
fangs.  So  run  away  he  did,  violating  his  own  nature 
and  pride  with  every  leap  he  made,  and  leaping  all 
day  long. 

One  cannot  violate  the  promptings  of  one's  nature 
without  having  that  nature  recoil  upon  itself.  Such 
a  recoil  is  like  that  of  a  hair,  made  to  grow  out  from 
the  body,  turning  unnaturally  upon  the  direction  of 
its  growth  and  growing  into  the  body  —  a  rankling, 
festering  thing  of  hurt.  And  so  with  White  Fang. 
Every  urge  of  his  being  impelled  him  to  spring  upon 
the  pack  that  cried  at  his  heels,  but  it  was  the  will 
of  the  gods  that  this  should  not  be  ;  and  behind  the 
will,  to  enforce  it,  was  the  whip  of  caribo..>-gut  with 
its  biting  thirty-foot  lash.  So  White  Fang  could 
only  eat  his  heart  in  bitterness  and  develop  a  hatred 
and  malice  commensurate  with  the  ferocity  and 
indomitability  of  his  nature. 

If  ever  a  creature  was  the  enemy  of  its  kind. 
White  Fang  was  that  creature.  He  asked  no  quarter, 
gave  none.  He  was  continually  marred  and  scarred 
by  the  teeth  of  the  pack,  and  as  continually  he  left 
his  own  marks  upon  the  pack.     Unlike  most  leaders. 


THE   ENEMY   OF   HIS   KIND  189 

who,  when  camp  was  made  and  the  dogs  were  un- 
hitched, huddled  near  to  the  gods  for  protection, 
White  Fang  disdained  such  protection.  He  walked 
boldly  about  the  camp,  inflicting  punishment  in  the 
night  for  what  he  had  suffered  in  the  day.  In 
the  time  before  he  was  made  leader  of  the  team,  the 
pack  had  learned  to  get  out  of  his  way.  But  now  it 
was  different.  Excited  by  the  day-long  pursuit  of 
him,  swayed  subconsciously  by  the  insistent  iteration 
on  their  brains  of  the  sight  of  him  fleeing  away, 
mastered  by  the  feeling  of  mastery  enjoyed  all  day, 
the  dogs  could  not  bring  themselves  to  give  way  to 
him.  When  he  appeared  amongst  them,  there  was 
always  a  squabble.  His  progress  was  marked  by 
snarl  and  snap  and  growl.  The  very  at"  »sphere  he 
breathed  was  surcharged  with  hatred  and  malice,  and 
this  but  served  to  increase  the  hatred  and  malice 
within  him. 

When  Mit-sah  cried  out  his  command  for  the  team 
to  stop.  White  Fang  obeyed.  At  first  this  caused 
trouble  for  the  other  dogs.  All  of  them  would  spring 
upon  the  hated  leader,  only  to  find  the  tables  turned. 
Behind  him  would  be  Mit-sah,  the  great  whip  singing 
in  his  hand.  So  the  dogs  came  to  understand  that 
when  the  team  stopped  by  order,  White  Fang  was 
to  be  let  alone.  But  when  White  Fang  stopped  with- 
out orders,  then  it  was  allowed  them  to  spring  upon 
him  and  destroy  him  if  they  could.      After  several 


190  WHITE   FANG 

experiences,  White  Fang  never  stopped  without 
orders.  He  learned  quickly.  It  was  in  the  nature 
of  things  that  he  must  learn  quickly,  if  he  were 
to  survive  the  unusually  severe  conditions  under 
which  life  was  vouchsafed  him. 

But  the  dogs  could  never  learn  the  lesson  to  leave 
him  alone  in  camp.  Each  day,  pursuing  him  and 
crying  defiance  at  him,  the  lesson  of  the  previous 
night  was  erased,  and  that  night  would  have  to  be 
learned  over  again,  to  be  as  immediately  forgotten. 
Besides,  there  was  a  greater  consistence  in  their  dis- 
like of  him.  They  sensed  between  themselves  and 
him  a  difference  of  kind  —  cause  sufficient  in  itself 
for  hostility.  Like  him,  they  were  domesticated 
wolves.  But  they  had  been  domesticated  for  gen- 
erations. Much  of  the  Wild  had  been  lost,  so  that 
to  them  the  Wild  was  the  unknown,  the  terrible,  the 
ever  menacing  and  ever  warring.  But  to  him,  in 
appearance  and  action  and  impulse,  still  clung  the 
Wild.  He  symbolized  it,  was  its  personification ;  so 
that  when  they  showed  their  teeth  to  him  they  were 
defending  themselves  against  the  powers  of  destruc- 
tion that  lurked  in  the  shadows  of  the  forest  and  in 
the  dark  beyond  the  camp-fire. 

But  there  was  one  lesson  the  dogs  did  learn,  and 
that  was  to  keep  together.  White  Fang  was  too 
terrible  for  any  of  them  to  face  single-handed.  They 
met  him  with  the  mass-formation,  otherwise  he  would 


To  him,  in  appearance  and  action  and  impulse,  still  clung  the  Wild." 


THE   ENEMY    OF   HIS   KIND  191 

have  killed  them,  one  by  one,  in  a  night.  As  it  was, 
he  never  had  a  chance  to  kill  them.  He  might  roll  a 
dog  off  its  feet,  but  the  pack  would  be  upon  him 
before  he  could  follow  up  and  deliver  the  deadly 
throat-stroke.  At  the  first  hint  of  conflict,  the  whole 
team  drew  together  and  faced  him.  The  dogs  had 
quarrels  among  themselves,  but  these  were  forgotten 
when  trouble  was  brewing  with  White  Fang. 

On  the  other  hand,  try  as  they  would,  they  could 
not  kill  White  Fang.  He  was  too  quick  for  them, 
too  formidable,  too  wise.  He  avoided  tight  places 
and  always  backed  out  of  it  when  they  bade  fair  to 
surround  him.  While,  as  for  getting  him  off  his  feet, 
there  was  no  dog  among  them  capable  of  doing  the 
trick.  His  feet  clung  to  the  earth  with  the  same 
tenacity  that  he  clung  to  life.  For  that  matter,  life 
and  footing  were  synonymous  in  this  unending  war- 
fare with  the  pack,  and  none  knew  it  better  than 
White  Fang. 

So  he  became  the  enemy  of  his  kind,  domesticated 
wolves  that  they  were,  softened  by  the  fires  of  man, 
weakened  in  the  sheltering  shadow  of  man's  strength. 
White  Fang  was  bitter  and  implacable.  The  clay  of 
him  was  so  moulded.  He  declared  a  vendetta  against 
all  dogs.  And  so  terriblj^  did  he  live  this  vendetta 
that  Gray  Beaver,  fierce  savage  himself,  could  not  but 
marvel  at  White  Fang's  ferocity.  Never,  he  swore, 
had  there  been  the  like    of    this    animal ;    and    the 


192  WHITE   FANG 

Indians  in  strange  villages  swore  likewise  when 
they  considered  the  tale  of  his  killings  amongst  their 
dogs. 

When  White  Fang  was  nearly  five  years  old,  Gray 
Beaver  took  him  on  another  great  journey,  and  long 
remembered  was  the  havoc  he  worked  amongst  the 
dogs  of  the  many  villages  along  the  Mackenzie, 
across  the  Rockies,  and  down  the  Porcupine  to  the 
Yukon.  He  revelled  in  the  vengeance  he  wreaked 
upon  his  kind.  They  were  ordinary,  unsuspecting 
dogs.  They  were  not  prepared  for  his  swiftness  and 
directness,  for  his  attack  without  warning.  They  did 
not  know  him  for  what  he  was,  a  lightning-flash  of 
slaughter.  They  bristled  up  to  him,  stiff-legged  and 
challenging,  while  he,  wasting  no  time  on  elaborate 
preliminaries,  snapping  into  action  like  a  steel  spring, 
was  at  their  throats  and  destroying  them  before  they 
knew  what  was  happening  and  while  they  were  yet 
in  the  throes  of  surprise. 

He  became  an  adept  at  fighting.  He  economized. 
He  never  wasted  his  strength,  never  tussled.  He 
was  in  too  quickly  for  that,  and,  if  he  missed,  was  out 
again  too  quickly.  The  dislike  of  the  wolf  for  close 
quarters  was  his  to  an  unusual  degree.  He  could  not 
endure  a  prolonged  contact  with  another  body.  It 
smacked  of  danger.  It  made  him  frantic.  He  must 
be  away,  free,  on  his  own  legs,  touching  no  living 
thing.     It  was  the  Wild  still  clinging  to  him,  asserting 


THE   ENEMY   OF   HIS   KIND  193 

itself  through  him.  This  feeling  had  been  accentu- 
ated by  the  Ishmaelite  life  he  had  led  from  his  puppy- 
hood.  Danger  lurked  in  contacts.  It  was  the  trap, 
ever  the  trap,  the  fear  of  it  lurking  deep  in  the  life 
of  him,  woven  into  the  fibre  of  him. 

In  consequence,  the  strange  dogs  he  encountered 
had  no  chance  against  him.  He  eluded  their  fangs. 
He  got  them,  or  got  away,  himself  untouched  in 
either  event.  In  the  natural  course  of  things  there 
were  exceptions  to  this.  There  were  times  when 
several  dogs,  pitching  on  to  him,  punished  him  before 
he  could  get  away  ;  and  there  were  times  when  a 
single  dog  scored  deeply  on  him.  But  these  were 
accidents.  In  the  main,  so  efficient  a  fighter  had  he 
become,  he  went  his  way  unscathed. 

Another  advantage  he  possessed  was  that  of  cor- 
rectly judging  time  and  distance.  Not  that  he  did 
this  consciously,  however.  He  did  not  calculate  such 
things.  It  was  all  automatic.  His  eyes  saw  cor- 
rectly, and  the  nerves  carried  the  vision  correctly  to 
his  brain.  The  parts  of  him  were  better  adjusted 
than  those  of  the  average  dog.  They  worked 
together  more  smoothly  and  steadily.  His  was  a 
better,  far  better,  nervous,  mental,  and  muscular 
coordination.  When  his  eyes  conveyed  to  his  brain 
the  moving  image  of  an  action,  his  brain,  without 
conscious  effort,  knew  the  space  that  limited  that 
action    and    the    time    required    for    its    completion. 


194  WHITE   FANG 

Thus,  he  could  avoid  the  leap  of  another  dog,  or  the 
drive  of  its  fangs,  and  at  the  same  moment  could 
seize  the  infinitesimal  fraction  of  time  in  v^hich  to 
deliver  his  own  attack.  Body  and  brain,  his  v^as  a 
more  perfected  mechanism.  Not  that  he  v^as  to  be 
praised  for  it.  Nature  had  been  more  generous  to 
him  than  to  the  average  animal,  that  v^as  all. 

It  was  in  the  summer  that  White  Fang  arrived 
at  Fort  Yukon.  Gray  Beaver  had  crossed  the  great 
water-shed  between  the  Mackenzie  and  the  Yukon 
in  the  late  winter,  and  spent  the  spring  in  hunting 
among  the  western  outlying  spurs  of  the  Rockies. 
Then,  after  the  break-up  of  the  ice  on  the  Porcupine, 
he  had  built  a  canoe  and  paddled  down  that  stream 
to  where  it  effected  its  junction  with  the  Yukon  just 
under  the  Arctic  Circle.  Here  stood  the  old  Hud- 
son's Bay  Company  fort ;  and  here  were  many  Ind- 
ians, much  food,  and  unprecedented  excitement. 
It  was  the  summer  of  1898,  and  thousands  of  gold- 
hunters  were  going  up  the  Yukon  to  Dawson  and 
the  Klondike.  Still  hundreds  of  miles  from  their 
goal,  nevertheless  many  of  them  had  been  on  the 
way  for  a  year,  and  the  least  any  of  them  had  trav- 
elled to  get  that  far  was  five  thousand  miles,  while 
some  had  come  from  the  other  side  of  the  world. 

Here  Gray  Beaver  stopped.  A  whisper  of  the 
gold-rush  had  reached  his  ears,  and  he  had  come 
with  several  bales  of  furs,  and  another  of  gut-sewn 


THE    ENEMY    OF    HIS    KIND  195 

mittens  and  moccasins.  He  would  not  have  ventured 
so  long  a  trip  had  he  not  expected  generous  profits. 
But  what  he  had  expected  was  nothing  to  what  he 
realized.  His  wildest  dream  had  not  exceeded  a 
hundred  per  cent,  profit ;  he  made  a  thousand  per 
cent.  And  like  a  true  Indian,  he  settled  down  to 
trade  carefully  and  slowly,  even  if  it  took  all  summer 
and  the  rest  of  the  winter  to  dispose  of  his  goods. 

It  was  at  Fort  Yukon  that  White  Fang  saw  his 
first  white  men.  As  compared  with  the  Indians  he 
had  known,  they  were  to  him  another  race  of  beings, 
a  race  of  superior  gods.  They  impressed  him  as 
possessing  superior  power,  and  it  is  on  power  that 
god-head  rests.  White  Fang  did  not  reason  it  out, 
did  not  in  his  mind  make  the  sharp  generalization 
that  the  white  gods  were  more  powerful.  It  was  a 
feeling,  nothing  more,  and  yet  none  the  less  potent. 
As,  in  his  puppyhood,  the  looming  bulks  of  the 
tepees,  man-reared,  had  affected  him  as  manifesta- 
tions of  power,  so  was  he  affected  now  by  the  houses 
and  the  huge  fort  all  of  massive  logs.  Here  was 
power.  Those  white  gods  were  strong.  They  pos- 
sessed greater  mastery  over  matter  than  the  gods  he 
had  known,  most  powerful  among  which  was  Gray 
Beaver.  And  yet  Gray  Beaver  was  as  a  child-god 
among  these  white-skinned  ones. 

To  be  sure.  White  Fang  only  felt  these  things. 
He  was  not  conscious  of  them.     Yet  it  is  upon  feeling, 


196  WHITE   FANG 

more  often  than  thinking,  that  animals  act ;  and 
every  act  White  Fang  now  performed  was  based 
upon  the  feeling  that  the  white  men  were  the  supe- 
rior gods.  In  the  first  place  he  was  very  suspicious 
of  them.  There  was  no  telling  what  unknown 
terrors  were  theirs,  what  unknown  hurts  they  could 
administer.  He  was  curious  to  observe  them,  fearful 
of  being  noticed  by  them.  For  the  first  few  hours 
he  was  content  with  slinking  around  and  watching 
them  from  a  safe  distance.  Then  he  saw  that  no 
harm  befell  the  dogs  that  were  near  to  them,  and  he 
came  in  closer. 

In  turn,  he  was  an  object  of  great  curiosity  to 
them.  His  wolfish  appearance  caught  their  eyes  at 
once,  and  they  pointed  him  out  to  one  another.  This 
act  of  pointing  put  White  Fang  on  his  guard,  and 
when  they  tried  to  approach  him  he  showed  his 
teeth  and  backed  away.  Not  one  succeeded  in  lay- 
ing a  hand  on  him,  and  it  was  well  that  they  did 
not. 

White  Fang  soon  learned  that  very  few  of  these 
gods  —  not  more  than  a  dozen  —  lived  at  this  place. 
Every  two  or  three  days  a  steamer  (another  and 
colossal  manifestation  of  power)  came  in  to  the  bank 
and  stopped  for  several  hours.  The  white  men  came 
from  off  these  steamers  and  went  away  on  them 
again.  There  seemed  untold  numbers  of  these  white 
men.     In  the  first  day  or  so,  he  saw  more  of  them 


THE   ENEMY    OF   HIS   KIND  197 

than  he  had  seen  Indians  in  all  his  life ;  and  as  the 
days  went  by  they  continued  to  come  up  the  river, 
stop,  and  then  go  on  up  the  river  and  out  of  sight. 

But  if  the  w^hite  gods  were  all-powerful,  their  dogs 
did  not  amount  to  much.  This  White  Fang  quickly 
discovered  by  mixing  with  those  that  came  ashore 
with  their  masters.  They  were  of  irregular  shapes 
and  sizes.  Some  were  short-legged  —  too  short; 
others  were  long-legged  —  too  long.  They  had  hair 
instead  of  fur,  and  a  few  had  very  little  hair  at  that. 
And  none  of  them  knew  how  to  fight. 

As  an  enemy  of  his  kind,  it  was  in  White  Fang's 
province  to  fight  with  them.  This  he  did,  and  he 
quickly  achieved  for  them  a  mighty  contempt.  They 
were  soft  and  helpless,  made  much  noise,  and  floun- 
dered around  clumsily,  trying  to  accomplish  by 
main  strength  what  he  accomplished  by  dexterity 
and  cunning.  They  rushed  bellowing  at  him.  He 
sprang  to  the  side.  They  did  not  know  what  had 
become  of  him ;  and  in  that  moment  he  struck  them 
on  the  shoulder,  rolling  them  off  their  feet  and  deliv- 
ering his  stroke  at  the  throat. 

Sometimes  this  stroke  was  successful,  and  a  stricken 
dog  rolled  in  the  dirt,  to  be  pounced  upon  and  torn 
to  pieces  by  the  pack  of  Indian  dogs  that  waited. 
White  Fang  was  wise.  He  had  long  since  learned 
that  the  gods  were  made  angry  when  their  dogs  were 
killed.     The  white  men  were  no  exception  to    this. 


198  WHITE   FANG 

So  he  was  content,  when  he  had  overthrown  and 
slashed  wide  the  throat  of  one  of  their  dogs,  to  drop 
back  and  let  the  pack  go  in  and  do  the  cruel  finish- 
ing work.  It  was  tlien  that  the  white  men  rushed 
in,  visiting  their  wrath  heavily  on  the  pack,  while 
White  Fang  went  free.  He  would  stand  off  at  a 
little  distance  and  look  on,  while  stones,  clubs,  axes, 
and  all  sorts  of  weapons  fell  upon  his  fellows.  White 
Fang  was  very  wise. 

But  his  fellows  grew  v/ise,  in  their  own  way ;  and 
in  this  White  Fang  grew  wise  with  them.  They 
learned  that  it  was  when  a  steamer  first  tied  to  the 
bank  that  they  had  their  fun.  After  the  first  two  or 
three  strange  dogs  had  been  downed  and  destroyed, 
the  white  men  hustled  their  own  animals  back  on 
board  and  wreaked  savage  vengeance  on  the  offenders. 
One  white  man,  having  seen  his  dog,  a  setter,  torn  to 
pieces  before  his  eyes,  drew  a  revolver.  He  fired 
rapidly,  six  times,  and  six  of  the  pack  lay  dead  or 
dying  —  another  manifestation  of  power  that  sank 
deep  into  White  Fang's  consciousness. 

White  Fang  enjoyed  it  all.  He  did  not  love  his 
kind,  and  he  was  shrewd  enough  to  escape  hurt  him- 
self. At  first,  the  killing  of  the  white  men's  dogs 
had  been  a  diversion.  After  a  time  it  became  his 
occupation.  There  was  no  work  for  him  to  do. 
Gray  Beaver  was  busy  trading  and  getting  wealthy. 
So  White  Fang  hung  around  the  landing  with  the  dis- 


THE   ENEMY    OF   HIS   KIND  199 

reputable  gang  of  Indian  dogs,  waiting  for  steamers. 

With  the  arrival  of  a  steamer  the  fun  began.     After 

a  few  minutes,  by  the  time  the  white  men  had  got 

over  their  surprise,  the  gang  scattered.     The  fun  was 

over  until  the  next  steamer  should  arrive. 

But  it  can  scarcely  be  said  that  White  Fang  was 

a  member  of  the  gang.     He  did  not  mingle  with  it, 

but  remained    aloof,  always    himself,  and  was  even 

feared    by  it.     It    is    true,  he  worked  with  it.     He 

picked  the  quarrel  with  the   strange  dog  while  the 

gang   waited.     And    when    he    had    overthrown    the 

strange  dog  the  gang  went  in  to  finish  it.     But  it  is 

equally  true  that  he  then  withdrew,  leaving  the  gang 

to  receive  the  punishment  of  the  outraged  gods. 

J  It  did   not  require   much   exertion   to   pick   these 

quarrels.     All  he  had  to  do,  when  the  strange  dogs 

came  ashore,  was  to  show  himself.     When  they  saw 

him   they   rushed   for  him.       It   was    their    instinct. 

4 
He  was  the  Wild  —  the  unknown,  the  terrible,  the 

ever  menacing,  the  thing  that  prowled  in  the  darkness 
around  the  fires  of  the  primeval  world  v^vhen  they, 
cowering  close  to  the  fires,  were  reshaping  their  in- 
stincts, learning  to  fear  the  Wild  out  of  which  they 
had  come,  and  which  they  had  deserted  and  betrayed. 
Generation  by  generation,  down  all  the  generations, 
had  this  fear  of  the  Wild  been  stamped  into  their 
natures.  For  centuries  the  Wild  had  stood  for  terror 
and  destruction.    And  during  all  this  time  free  license 


200  WHITE   FANG 

had  been  theirs,  from  their  masters,  to  kill  the  things 
of  the  Wild.  In  doing  this  they  had  protected  both 
themselves  and  the  gods  whose  companionship  they 
shared. 

And  so,  fresh  from  the  soft  southern  world,  these 
dogs,  trotting  down  the  gang-plank  and  out  upon  the 
Yukon  shore,  had  but  to  see  White  Fang  to  experi- 
ence the  irresistible  impulse  to  rush  upon  him  and 
destroy  him.  They  might  be  town-reared  dogs,  but 
the  instinctive  fear  of  the  Wild  was  theirs  just  the 
same.  Not  alone  with  their  own  eyes  did  they  see 
the  wolfish  creature  in  the  clear  light  of  day,  standing 
before  them.  They  saw  him  with  the  eyes  of  their 
ancestors,  and  by  their  inherited  memory  they  knew 
White  Fang  for  the  wolf,  and  they  remembered  the 
ancient  feud. 

All  of  which  served  to  make  White  Fang's  days  en- 
joyable. If  the  sight  of  him  drove  these  strange  dogs 
upon  him,  so  much  the  better  for  him,  so  much  the 
worse  for  them.  They  looked  upon  him  as  legitimate 
prey,  and  as  legitimate  prey  he  looked  upon  them. 

Not  for  nothing  had  he  first  seen  the  light  of  day 
in  a  lonely  lair  and  fought  his  first  fights  with  the 
ptarmigan,  the  weasel,  and  the  lynx.  And  not  for 
nothing  had  his  puppyhood  been  made  bitter  by  the 
persecution  of  Lip-lip  and  the  whole  puppy-pack.  It 
might  have  been  otherwise,  and  he  would  then  have 
been  otherwise.     Had  Lip-lip  not  existed,  he  would 


THE   ENEMY    OF    HIS    KIND  201 

have  passed  his  puppyhood  with  the  other  puppies 
and  grown  up  more  doglike  and  with  more  liking 
for  dogs.  Had  Gray  Beaver  possessed  the  plummet 
of  affection  and  love,  he  might  have  sounded  the 
deeps  of  White  Fang's  nature  and  brought  up  to  the 
surface  all  manner  of  kindly  qualities.  But  these 
things  had  not  been  so.  The  clay  of  White  Fang 
had  been  moulded  until  he  became  what  he  was, 
morose  and  lonely,  unloving  and  ferocious,  the  enemy 
of  all  his  kind.  ^ 


CHAPTER    II 


THE    MAD    GOD 


A  SMALL  number  of  white  men  lived  in  Fort  Yukon. 
These  men  had  been  long  in  the  country.  They 
called  themselves  Sour-doughs,  and  took  great  pride 
in  so  classifying  themselves.  For  other  men,  new  in 
the  land,  they  felt  nothing  but  disdain.  The  men 
who  came  ashore  from  the  steamers  were  new- 
comers. They  were  known  as  chechaquos,  and  they 
always  wilted  at  the  application  of  the  name.  They 
made  their  bread  with  baking-powder.  This  was  the 
invidious  distinction  between  them  and  the  Sour- 
doughs, who,  forsooth,  made  their  bread  from  sour- 
dough because  they  had  no  baking-powder. 

All  of  which  is  neither  here  nor  there.  The  men 
in  the  fort  disdained  the  newcomers  and  enjoyed 
seeing  them  come  to  grief.  Especially  did  they 
enjoy  the  havoc  worked  amongst  the  newcomers' 
dogs  by  White  Fang  and  his  disreputable  gang. 
When  a  steamer  arrived,  the  men  of  the  fort  made 
it  a  point  always  to  come  down  to  the  bank  and  see 
the  fun.     They  looked  forward  to  it  with  as  much 

202 


THE   MAD   GOD  203 

anticipation  as  did  the  Indian  dogs,  while  they  were 
not  slow  to  appreciate  the  savage  and  crafty  part 
played  by  White  Fang. 

But  there  was  one  man  amongst  them  who  particu- 
larly enjoyed  the  sport.  He  would  come  running  at 
the  first  sound  of  a  steamboat's  whistle ;  and  when 
the  last  fight  was  over  and  White  Fang  and  the  pack 
had  scattered,  he  would  return  slowly  to  the  fort, 
his  face  heavy  with  regret.  Sometimes,  when  a  soft 
Southland  dog  went  down,  shrieking  its  death-cry 
under  the  fangs  of  the  pack,  this  man  would  be  un- 
able to  contain  himself,  and  would  leap  into  the  air 
and  cry  out  with  delight.  And  alwaj^s  he  had  a 
sharp  and  covetous  eye  for  White  Fang. 

This  man  was  called  "  Beauty  "  by  the  other  men 
of  the  fort.  No  one  knew  his  first  name,  and  in 
general  he  was  known  in  the  country  as  Beauty 
Smith.  But  he  was  anything  save  a  beauty.  To 
antithesis  was  due  his  naming.  He  was  preeminently 
unbeautiful.  Nature  had  been  niggardly  with  him. 
He  was  a  small  man  to  begin  with  ;  and  upon  his 
meagre  frame  was  deposited  an  even  more  strikingly 
meagre  head.  Its  apex  might  be  likened  to  a  point. 
In  fact,  in  his  boyhood,  before  he  had  been  named 
Beauty  by  his  fellows,  he  had  been  called  "  Pinhead." 

Backward,  from  the  apex,  his  head  slanted  down 
to  his  neck  ;  and  forward,  it  slanted  uncompromis- 
ingly to  meet  a  low  and  remarkably  wide  forehead. 


204  WHITE   FANG 

Beginning  here,  as  though  regretting  her  parsimony, 
Nature  had  spread  his  features  with  a  lavish  hand. 
His  eyes  were  large,  and  between  them  was  the  dis- 
tance of  two  eyes.  His  face,  in  relation  to  the  rest 
of  him,  was  prodigious.  In  order  to  discover  the 
necessary  area.  Nature  had  given  him  an  enormous 
prognathous  jaw.  It  was  wide  and  heavy,  and  pro- 
truded outward  and  down  until  it  seemed  to  rest  on 
his  chest.  Possibly  this  appearance  was  due  to  the 
weariness  of  the  slender  neck,  unable  properly  to 
support  so  great  a  burden. 

This  jaw  gave  the  impression  of  ferocious  deter- 
mination. But  something  lacked.  Perhaps  it  w^as 
from  excess.  Perhaps  the  jaw  v/as  too  large.  At 
any  rate,  it  was  a  lie.  Beauty  Smith  was  known 
far  and  wide  as  the  weakest  of  weak-kneed  and 
snivelling  cowards.  To  complete  his  description,  his 
teeth  were  large  and  yellow,  while  the  two  eye-teeth, 
larger  than  their  fellows,  showed  under  his  lean  lips 
like  fangs.  His  eyes  were  yellow  and  muddy,  as 
though  Nature  had  run  short  on  pigments  and 
squeezed  together  the  dregs  of  all  her  tubes.  It  was 
the  same  with  his  hair,  sparse  and  irregular  of 
growth,  muddy-yellow  and  dirty-yellow,  rising  on 
his  head  and  sprouting  out  of  his  face  in  unexpected 
tufts  and  bunches,  in  appearance  like  clumped  and 
wind-blown  grain. 

In  short.  Beauty  Smith  was  a  monstrosity,  and  the 


THE   MAD   GOD  205 

blame  of  it  lay  elsewhere.  He  was  not  responsible. 
The  clay  of  him  had  been  so  moulded  in  the  making. 
He  did  the  cooking  for  the  other  men  in  the  fort,  the 
dish-washing  and  the  drudgery.  They  did  not  de- 
spise him.  Rather  did  they  tolerate  him  in  a  broad 
human  way,  as  one  tolerates  any  creature  evilly 
treated  in  the  making.  Also,  they  feared  him.  His 
cowardly  rages  made  them  dread  a  shot  in  the  back 
or  poison  in  their  coffee.  But  somebody  had  to  do 
the  cooking,  and  whatever  else  his  shortcomings, 
Beauty  Smith  could  cook. 

This  was  the  man  that  looked  at  White  Fang, 
delighted  in  his  ferocious  prowess,  and  desired  to 
possess  him.  He  made  overtures  to  White  Fang  from 
the  first.  White  Fang  began  by  ignoring  him.  Later 
on,  when  the  overtures  became  more  insistent.  White 
Fang  bristled  and  bared  his  teeth  and  backed  away. 
He  did  not  like  the  man.  The  feel  of  him  was  bad. 
He  sensed  the  evil  in  him,  and  feared  the  extended 
hand  and  the  attempts  at  soft-spoken  speech.  Be- 
cause of  all  this,  he  hated  the  man. 

With  the  simpler  creatures,  good  and  bad  are 
things  simply  understood.  The  good  stands  for  all 
things  that  bring  easement  and  satisfaction  and  sur- 
cease from  pain.  Therefore,  the  good  is  liked.  The 
bad  stands  for  all  things  that  are  fraught  with  discom- 
fort, menace,  and  hurt,  and  is  hated  accordingly. 
White  Fang's  feel  of  Beauty  Smith  was  bad.     From 


206  WHITE   FANG 

the  man's  distorted  body  and  twisted  mind,  in  occult 
ways,  like  mists  rising  from  malarial  marshes,  came 
emanations  of  the  unhealth  within.  Not  by  reason- 
ing, not  by  the  five  senses  alone,  but  by  other  and 
remoter  and  uncharted  senses,  came  the  feeling  to 
White  Fang  that  the  man  was  ominous  with  evil, 
pregnant  with  hurtfulness,  and  therefore  a  thing  bad, 
and  wisely  to  be  hated. 

White  Fang  was  in  Gray  Beaver's  camp  when 
Beauty  Smith  first  visited  it.  At  the  faint  sound  of 
his  distant  feet,  before  he  came  in  sight,  White  Fang 
knew  who  was  coming  and  began  to  bristle.  He 
had  been  lying  down  in  an  abandon  of  comfort,  but 
he  arose  quickly,  and,  as  the  man  arrived,  slid  away 
in  true  wolf-fashion  to  the  edge  of  the  camp.  He  did 
not  know  what  they  said,  but  he  could  see  the  man 
and  Gray  Beaver  talking  together.  Once,  the  man 
pointed  at  him,  and  White  Fang  snarled  back  as 
though  the  hand  were  just  descending  upon  him  in- 
stead of  being,  as  it  was,  fift}^  feet  away.  The  man 
laughed  at  this ;  and  White  Fang  slunk  away  to  the 
sheltering  woods,  his  head  turned  to  observe  as  he 
glided  softly  over  the  ground. 

Gray  Beaver  refused  to  sell  the  dog.  He  had 
grown  rich  with  his  trading  and  stood  in  need  of 
nothing.  Besides,  White  Fang  was  a  valuable  ani- 
mal, the  strongest  sled-dog  he  had  ever  owned,  and 
the  best  leader.     Furthermore,  there  was  no  dog  like 


THE   MAD   GOD  207 

him  on  the  Mackenzie  nor  the  Yukon.  He  could  fight. 
He  killed  other  dogs  as  easily  as  men  killed  mosqui- 
toes. (Beauty  Smith's  eyes  lighted  up  at  this,  and 
he  licked  his  thin  lips  with  an  eager  tongue.)  No, 
White  Fang  was  not  for  sale  at  any  price. 

But  Beauty  Smith  knew  the  ways  of  Indians.  He 
visited  Gray  Beaver's  camp  often,  and  hidden  under 
his  coat  was  always  a  black  bottle  or  so.  One  of  the 
potencies  of  whiskey  is  the  breeding  of  thirst.  Gray 
Beaver  got  the  thirst.  His  fevered  membranes  and 
burnt  stomach  began  to  clamor  for  more  and  more 
of  the  scorching  fluid ;  while  his  brain,  thrust  all 
aw^ry  by  the  unwonted  stimulant,  permitted  him  to 
go  any  length  to  obtain  it.  The  money  he  had 
received  for  his  furs  and  mittens  and  moccasins 
began  to  go.  It  went  faster  and  faster,  and  the  shorter 
his  money-sack  grew,  the  shorter  grew  his  temper. 

In  the  end  his  money  and  goods  and  temper  w^ere 
all  gone.  Nothing  remained  to  him  but  his  thirst,  a 
prodigious  possession  in  itself  that  grew  more  pro- 
digious with  every  sober  breath  he  drew.  Then  it 
was  that  Beauty  Smith  had  talk  with  him  again 
about  the  sale  of  White  Fang ;  but  this  time  the 
price  offered  was  in  bottles,  not  dollars,  and  Gray 
Beaver's  ears  were  more  eager  to  hear. 

"  You  ketch  um  dog  you  take  um  all  right,"  was 
his  last  word. 

The  bottles  were   delivered,   but   after   two   days, 


208  WHITE     FANG 

"  You  ketch  um  dog,"  were  Beauty  Smith's  words 
to  Gray  Beaver. 

White  Fang  slunk  into  camp  one  evening  and 
dropped  down  with  a  sigh  of  content.  The  dreaded 
white  god  was  not  there.  For  days  his  manifesta- 
tions of  desire  to  lay  hands  on  him  had  been  growing 
more  insistent,  and  during  that  time  White  Fang  had 
been  compelled  to  avoid  the  camp.  He  did  not 
know  what  evil  was  threatened  by  those  insistent 
hands.  He  knew  only  that  they  did  threaten  evil  of 
some  sort,  and  that  it  was  best  for  him  to  keep  out 
of  their  reach. 

But  scarcely  had  he  lain  down  when  Gray  Beaver 
staggered  over  to  him  and  tied  a  leather  thong 
around  his  neck.  He  sat  down  beside  White  Fang, 
holding  the  end  of  the  thong  in  his  hand.  In  the 
other  hand  he  held  a  bottle,  which,  from  time  to 
time,  was  inverted  above  his  head  to  the  accompani- 
ment of  gurgling  noises. 

An  hour  of  this  passed,  when  the  vibrations  of 
feet  in  contact  with  the  ground  foreran  the  one  who 
approached.  White  Fang  heard  it  first,  and  he  was 
bristling  with  recognition  while  Gray  Beaver  still 
nodded  stupidly.  White  Fang  tried  to  draw  the  thong 
softly  out  of  his  master's  hand ;  but  the  relaxed 
fingers  closed  tightly  and  Gray  Beaver  roused  himself. 

Beauty  Smith  strode  into  camp  and  stood  over 
White  Fang.     He  snarled  softly  up  at  the  thing  of 


THE   MAD   GOD  209 

fear,  watching  keenly  the  deportment  of  the  hands. 
One  hand  extended  outward  and  began  to  descend 
upon  his  head.  His  soft  snarl  grew  tense  and  harsh. 
The  hand  continued  slowly  to  descend,  while  he 
crouched  beneath  it,  eying  it  malignantly,  his  snarl 
growing  shorter  and  shorter  as,  with  quickening 
breath,  it  approached  its  culmination.  Suddenly  he 
snapped,  striking  wuth  his  fangs  like  a  snake.  The 
hand  was  jerked  back,  and  the  teeth  came  together 
emptily  with  a  sharp  click.  Beauty  Sm^itli  was 
frightened  and  angry.  Gray  Beaver  clouted  White 
Fang  alongside  the  head,  so  that  he  cowered  down 
close  to  the  earth  in  respectful   obedience. 

White  Fang's  suspicious  eyes  followed  every  move- 
ment.  He  saw  Beauty  Smith  go  away  and  return 
w^ith  a  stout  club.  Then  the  end  of  the  thong  w^as 
given  over  to  him  by  Gray  Beaver.  Beauty  Smith 
started  to  walk  aw^ay.  The  thong  grew  taut.  White 
Fang  resisted  it.  Gray  Beaver  clouted  him  right  and 
left  to  make  him  get  up  and  follow.  He  obeyed,  but 
with  a  rush,  hurling  himself  upon  the  stranger  who 
was  dragging  him  away.  Beauty  Smith  did  not  jump 
away.  He  had  been  waiting  for  this.  He  swung  the 
club  smartly,  stopping  the  rush  midway  and  smash- 
ing White  Fang  down  upon  the  ground.  Gray 
Beaver  laughed  and  nodded  approval.  Beauty  Smith 
tightened  the  thong  again,  and  White  Fang  crawled 
limply  and  dizzily  to  his  feet. 


210  WHITE  FANG 

He  did  not  rush  a  second  time.  One  smash  from 
the  club  was  sufficient  to  convince  him  that  the  white 
god  knew  how  to  handle  it,  and  he  was  too  wise 
to  fight  the  inevitable.  So  he  followed  morosely  at 
Beauty  Smith's  heels,  his  tail  between  his  legs,  yet 
snarling  softly  under  his  breath.  But  Beauty  Smith 
kept  a  wary  eye  on  him,  and  the  club  was  held  always 
ready  to  strike. 

At  the  fort  Beauty  Smith  left  him  securely  tied 
and  went  in  to  bed.  White  Fang  waited  an  hour. 
Then  he  applied  his  teeth  to  the  thong,  and  in  the 
space  of  ten  seconds  was  free.  He  had  w^asted  no 
time  with  his  teeth.  There  had  been  no  useless 
gnawing.  The  thong  was  cut  across,  diagonally, 
almost  as  clean  as  though  done  by  a  knife.  White 
Fang  looked  up  at  the  fort,  at  the  same  time  bris- 
tling and  growling.  Then  he  turned  and  trotted  back 
to  Gray  Beaver's  camp.  He  owed  no  allegiance  to 
this  strange  and  terrible  god.  He  had  given  himself 
to  Gray  Beaver,  and  to  Gray  Beaver  he  considered  he 
still  belonged. 

But  what  had  occurred  before  was  repeated  —  with 
a  difference.  Gray  Beaver  again  made  him  fast  with 
a  thong,  and  in  the  morning  turned  him  over  to 
Beauty  Smith.  And  here  was  where  the  difference 
came  in.  Beauty  Smith  gave  him  a  beating.  Tied 
securely.  White  Fang  could  only  rage  futilely  and 
endure  the  punishment.     Club  and  whip  were  both 


THE   MAD   GOD  211 

used  upon  him,  and  he  experienced  the  worst  beating 
he  had  ever  received  in  his  life.  Even  the  big  beat- 
ing given  him  in  his  puppyhood  by  Gray  Beaver  was 
mild  compared  with  this. 

Beauty  Smith  enjoyed  the  task.  He  delighted  in 
it.  He  gloated  over  his  victim,  and  his  eyes  flamed 
dully,  as  he  swung  the  whip  or  club  and  listened  to 
White  Fang's  cries  of  pain  and  to  his  helpless  bel- 
lows and  snarls.  For  Beauty  Smith  w^as  cruel  in  the 
way  that  cowards  are  cruel.  Cringing  and  snivelling 
liimself  before  the  blows  or  angry  speech  of  a  man, 
he  revenged  himself,  in  turn,  upon  creatures  weaker 
than  he.  All  life  likes  power,  and  Beauty  Smith 
was  no  exception.  Denied  the  expression  of  power 
amongst  his  own  kind,  he  fell  back  upon  the  lesser 
creatures  and  there  vindicated  the  life  that  was  in 
him.  But  Beauty  Smith  had  not  created  himself, 
and  no  blame  was  to  be  attached  to  him.  He  had 
come  into  the  world  with  a  twisted  body  and  a  brute 
intelligence.  This  had  constituted  the  clay  of  him, 
and  it  had  not  been  kindly  moulded  by  the  w^orld. 

White  Fang  knew  why  he  was  being  beaten. 
When  Gray  Beaver  tied  the  thong  around  his  neck, 
and  passed  the  end  of  the  thong  into  Beauty  Smith's 
keeping,  White  Fang  knew  that  it  was  his  god's 
will  for  him  to  go  with  Beauty  Smith.  And  when 
Beauty  Smith  left  him  tied  outside  the  fort,  he 
knew  that  it  was  Beauty  Smith's  will  that  he  should 


212  WHITE   FANG 

remain  there.  Therefore,  he  had  disobeyed  the  will 
of  both  the  gods,  and  earned  the  consequent  punish- 
ment. He  had  seen  dogs  change  owners  in  the  past, 
and  he  had  seen  the  runaways  beaten  as  he  was 
being  beaten.  He  was  wise,  and  3^et  in  the  nature 
of  him  there  were  forces  greater  than  wisdom.  One 
of  these  was  fidelity.  He  did  not  love  Gray  Beaver ; 
yet,  even  in  the  face  of  his  will  and  his  anger,  he  was 
faithful  to  him.  He  could  not  help  it.  This  faith- 
fulness was  a  quality  of  the  clay  that  composed  him. 
It  was  the  quality  that  was  peculiarly  the  possession 
of  his  kind ;  the  quality  that  set  apart  his  species 
from  all  other  species;  the  quality  that  had  enabled 
the  wolf  and  the  wild  dog  to  come  in  from  the  open 
and  be  the  companions  of  man. 

After  the  beating,  White  Fang  w^as  dragged  back 
to  the  fort.  But  this  time  Beauty  Smith  left  him 
tied  with  a  stick.  One  does  not  give  up  a  god  easily, 
and  so  with  White  Fang.  Gray  Beaver  was  his  own 
particular  god,  and,  in  spite  of  Gray  Beaver's  will. 
White  Fang  still  clung  to  him  and  would  not  give 
him  up.  Gray  Beaver  had  betrayed  and  forsaken 
him,  but  that  had  no  effect  upon  him.  Not  for  noth- 
ing had  he  surrendered  himself  body  and  soul  to 
Gray  Beaver.  There  had  been  no  reservation  on 
White  Fang's  part,  and  the  bond  was  not  to  be  broken 
easily. 

So,  in  the  night,  when  the  men  in  the  fort  were  asleep. 


THE   MAD   GOD  213 

White  Fang  applied  his  teeth  to  the  stick  that  held 
him.  The  wood  was  seasoned  and  dry,  and  it  was 
tied  so  closely  to  his  neck  that  he  could  scarcely  get 
his  teeth  to  it.  It  was  only  by  the  severest  muscular 
exertion  and  neck-arching  that  he  succeeded  in  get- 
ting the  wood  between  his  teeth,  and  barely  between 
his  teeth  at  that ;  and  it  was  only  by  the  exercise  of 
an  immense  patience,  extending  through  many  hours, 
that  he  succeeded  in  gnawing  through  the  stick. 
This  was  something  that  dogs  were  not  supposed  to 
do.  It  was  unprecedented.  But  White  Fang  did 
it,  trotting  away  from  the  fort  in  the  early  morning, 
with  the  end  of  the  stick  hanging  to  his  neck. 

He  was  wise.  But  had  he  been  merely  wise  he 
would  not  have  gone  back  to  Gray  Beaver,  who  had 
already  twice  betrayed  him.  But  there  was  his  faith- 
fulness, and  he  went  back  to  be  betrayed  yet  a  third 
time.  Again  he  yielded  to  the  tying  of  a  thong 
around  his  neck  by  Gray  Beaver,  and  again  Beauty 
Smith  came  to  claim  him.  And  this  time  he  was 
beaten  even  more  severely  than  before. 

Gray  Beaver  looked  on  stolidly  while  the  white 
man  wielded  the  whip.  He  gave  no  protection.  It 
was  no  longer  his  dog.  When  the  beating  was  over 
White  Fang  was  sick.  A  soft  Southland  dog  would 
have  died  under  it,  but  not  he.  His  school  of  life 
had  been  sterner,  and  he  was  himself  of  sterner  stuff. 
He  had  too  great  vitality.     His  clutch  on  life  was  too 


214  WHITE   FANG 

strong.  But  he  was  very  sick.  At  first  he  was  un- 
able to  drag  himself  along,  and  Beauty  Smith  had 
to  wait  half  an  hour  on  him.  And  then,  blind  and 
reeling,  he  followed  at  Beauty  Smith's  heels  back 
to  the  fort. 

But  now  he  was  tied  with  a  chain  that  defied  his 
teeth,  and  he  strove  in  vain,  by  lunging,  to  draw  the 
staple  from  the  timber  into  which  it  was  driven. 
After  a  few  days,  sober  and  bankrupt.  Gray  Beaver 
departed  up  the  Porcupine  on  his  long  journey  to  the 
Mackenzie.  White  Fang  remained  on  the  Yukon, 
the  property  of  a  man  more  than  half  mad  and  all 
brute.  But  what  is  a  dog  to  know  in  its  conscious- 
ness of  madness  ?  To  White  Fang,  Beauty  Smith 
was  a  veritable,  if  terrible,  god.  He  was  a  mad  god 
at  best,  but  White  Fang  knew  nothing  of  madness ; 
he  knew  only  that  he  must  submit  to  the  will  of  this 
new  master,  obey  his  every  whim  and  fancy. 


CHAPTER    III 


THE    REIGN    OF    HATE 


Under  the  tutelage  of  the  mad  god,  White  Fang 
became  a  fiend.  He  was  kept  chained  in  a  pen  at 
the  rear  of  the  fort,  and  here  Beauty  Smith  teased 
and  irritated  and  drove  him  wild  with  petty  torments. 
The  man  early  discovered  White  Fang's  susceptibility 
to  laughter,  and  made  it  a  point,  after  painfully 
tricking  him,  to  laugh  at  him.  This  laughter  was 
uproarious  and  scornful,  and  at  the  same  time  the 
god  pointed  his  finger  derisively  at  White  Fang. 
At  such  times  reason  fled  from  White  Fang,  and  in 
his  transports  of  rage  he  was  even  more  mad  than 
Beauty  Smith. 

Formerly,  White  Fang  had  been  merely  the  enemy 
of  his  kind,  withal  a  ferocious  enemy.  He  now  be- 
came the  enemy  of  all  things,  and  more  ferocious 
than  ever.  To  such  an  extent  was  he  tormented,  that 
he  hated  blindly  and  without  the  faintest  spark  of 
reason.  He  hated  the  chain  that  bound  him,  the 
men  who  peered  in  at  him  through  the  slats  of  the 
pen,  the    dogs  that  accompanied  the  men    and    that 

215 


216  WHITE    FANG 

snarled  malignantly  at  him  in  his  helplessness.  He 
hated  the  very  wood  of  the  pen  that  confined  him. 
And  first,  last,  and  most  of  all,  he  hated  Beauty  Smith. 

But  Beauty  Smith  had  a  purpose  in  all  that  he 
did  to  White  Fang.  One  day  a  number  of  men 
gathered  about  the  pen.  Beauty  Smith  entered,  club 
in  hand,  and  took  the  chain  from  off  White  Fang's 
neck.  When  his  master  had  gone  out,  White  Fang 
turned  loose  and  tore  around  the  pen,  trying  to  get 
at  the  men  outside.  He  was  magnificently  terrible. 
Fully  five  feet  in  length,  and  standing  tw^o  and  one- 
half  feet  at  the  shoulder,  he  far  outweighed  a  wolf  of 
-corresponding  size.  From  his  mother  he  had  inherited 
the  heavier  proportions  of  the  dog,  so  that  he  weighed, 
without  any  fat  and  without  an  ounce  of  superfluous 
flesh,  over  ninety  pounds.  It  was  all  muscle,  bone, 
vEnd  sinew  —  fighting    flesh  in    the    finest    condition. 

The  door  of  the  pen  was  being  opened  again. 
White  Fang  paused.  Something  unusual  was  hap- 
pening. He  waited.  The  door  was  opened  wider. 
Then  a  huge  dog  was  thrust  inside,  and  the  door 
was  slammed  shut  behind  him.  White  Fang  had 
never  seen  such  a  dog  (it  was  a  mastiff) ;  but  the 
^size  and  fierce  aspect  of  the  intruder  did  not  deter 
him.  Here  was  something,  not  wood  nor  iron,  upon 
which  to  wreak  his  hate.  He  leaped  in  with  a  flash 
-of  fangs  that  ripped  down  the  side  of  the  mastiff's 
neck.     The  mastiff  shook  his  head,  growled  hoarsely. 


THE   REIGN   OF   HATE  217 

and  plunged  at  White  Fang.  But  White  Fang  was 
here,  there,  and  everywhere,  always  evading  and 
eluding,  and  always  leaping  in  and  slashing  with  his 
fangs  and  leaping  out  again  in  time  to  escape  punish- 
ment. 

The  men  outside  shouted  and  applauded,  while 
Beauty  Smith,  in  an  ecstasy  of  delight,  gloated  over 
the  ripping  and  mangling  performed  by  White  Fang. 
There  was  no  hope  for  the  mastiff  from  the  first. 
He  was  too  ponderous  and  slow.  In  the  end,  while 
Beauty  Smith  beat  White  Fang  back  with  a  club,  the 
mastiff  was  dragged  out  by  its  owner.  Then  there 
was  a  payment  of  bets,  and  money  clinked  in  Beauty 
Smith's  hand. 

White  Fang  came  to  look  forward  eagerly  to  the 
gathering  of  the  men  around  his  pen.  It  meant  a 
fight ;  and  this  was  the  only  way  that  was  now 
vouchsafed  him  of  expressing  the  life  that  was  in 
him.  Tormented,  incited  to  hate,  he  was  kept  a 
prisoner  so  that  there  was  no  way  of  satisfying  that 
hate  except  at  the  times  his  master  saw  fit  to  put 
another  dog  against  him.  Beauty  Smith  had 
estimated  his  powers  well,  for  he  was  invariably 
the  victor.  One  day,  three  dogs  were  turned  in  upon 
him  in  succession.  Another  day,  a  full-grown  wolf, 
fresh-caught  from  the  Wild,  was  shoved  in  through 
the  door  of  the  pen.  And  on  still  another  day  two 
dogs  were  set  against  him  at  the  same   time.     This 


218  WHITE    FANG 

was  his  severest  fight,  and  although  in  the  end 
he  killed  them  both  he  was  himself  half  killed  in 
doing  it. 

In  the  fall  of  the  year,  when  the  first  snows  were 
falling  and  mush-ice  was  running  in  the  river.  Beauty 
Smith  took  passage  for  himself  and  White  Fang  on  a 
steamboat  bound  up  the  Yukon  to  Davison.  White 
Fang  had  now  achieved  a  reputation  in  the  land.  As 
^'  The  Fighting  Wolf "  he  was  known  far  and  wide, 
and  the  cage  in  which  he  was  kept  on  the  steam- 
boat's deck  was  usually  surrounded  by  curious  men. 
He  raged  and  snarled  at  them,  or  lay  quietly  and 
studied  them  with  cold  hatred.  Why  should  he  not 
hate  them  ?  He  never  asked  himself  the  question. 
He  knew  only  hate  and  lost  himself  in  the  passion  of 
it.  Life  had  become  a  hell  to  him.  He  had  not  been 
made  for  the  close  confinement  wild  beasts  endure  at 
the  hands  of  men.  And  yet  it  was  in  precisely  this 
way  that  he  was  treated.  Men  stared  at  him,  poked 
sticks  between  the  bars  to  make  him  snarl,  and  then 
laughed  at  him. 

They  were  his  environment,  these  men,  and  they 
were  moulding  the  clay  of  him  into  a  more  ferocious 
thing  than  had  been  intended  by  Nature.  Neverthe- 
less, Nature  had  given  him  plasticity.  Where  many 
another  animal  would  have  died  or  had  its  spirit 
broken,  he  adjusted  himself  and  lived,  and  at  no 
expense  of  the  spirit.     Possibly  Beauty  Smith,  arch- 


THE   REIGN   OF   HATE  219 

fiend  and  tormentor,  was  capable  of  breaking  White 
Fang's  spirit,  but  as  yet  there  were  no  signs  of  his 
succeeding. 

If  Beauty  Smith  had  in  him  a  devil,  White  Fang 
had  another ;  and  the  two  of  them  raged  against  each 
other  unceasingly.  In  the  days  before,  White  Fang 
had  had  the  wisdom  to  cower  down  and  submit  to  a 
man  with  a  club  in  his  hand ;  but  this  wisdom  now 
left  him.  The  mere  sight  of  Beauty  Smith  was 
sufficient  to  send  him  into  transports  of  fury.  And 
when  they  came  to  close  quarters,  and  he  had  been 
beaten  back  by  the  club,  he  went  on  growling  and 
snarling  and  showing  his  fangs.  The  last  growl 
could  never  be  extracted  from  him.  No  matter  how 
terribly  he  was  beaten,  he  had  always  another  growl ; 
and  when  Beauty  Smith  gave  up  and  withdrew,  the 
defiant  growl  followed  after  him,  or  White  Fang 
sprang  at  the  bars  of  the  cage  bellowing  his  hatred. 

When  the  steamboat  arrived  at  Dawson,  White 
Fang  went  ashore.  But  he  still  lived  a  public  life,  in 
a  cage,  surrounded  by  curious  men.  He  w^as  exhibited 
as  "  The  Fighting  Wolf,"  and  men  paid  fifty  cents  in 
gold  dust  to  see  him.  He  was  given  no  rest.  Did 
he  lie  down  to  sleep,  he  was  stirred  up  by  a  sharp 
stick  —  so  that  the  audience  might  get  its  money's 
worth.  In  order  to  make  the  exhibition  interesting, 
he  was  kept  in  a  rage  most  of  the  time.  But  worse 
than  all  this,  was  the  atmosphere  in  which  he  lived. 


220  WHITE   FANG 

He  was  regarded  as  the  most  fearful  of  wild  beasts, 
and  this  was  borne  in  to  him  through  the  bars  of 
the  cage.  Every  word,  every  cautious  action,  on  the 
part  of  the  men,  impressed  upon  him  his  own  terrible 
ferocity.  It  was  so  much  added  fuel  to  the  flame  of 
his  fierceness.  There  could  be  but  one  result,  and 
that  was  that  his  ferocity  fed  upon  itself  and  increased. 
It  was  another  instance  of  the  plasticity  of  his  clay, 
of  his  capacity  for  being  moulded  by  the  pressure  of 
environment. 

In  addition  to  being  exhibited,  he  was  a  profes- 
sional fighting  animal.  At  irregular  intervals,  when- 
ever a  fight  could  be  arranged,  he  was  taken  out  of 
his  cage  and  led  off  into  the  woods  a  few  miles  from 
town.  Usually  this  occurred  at  night,  so  as  to  avoid 
interference  from  the  mounted  police  of  the  Territory. 
After  a  few  hours  of  waiting,  when  daylight  had 
come,  the  audience  and  the  dog  with  which  he  was 
to  fight  arrived.  In  this  manner  it  came  about  that 
he  fought  all  sizes  and  breeds  of  dogs.  It  was  a  sav- 
age land,  the  men  were  savage,  and  the  fights  were 
usually  to  the  death. 

Since  White  Fang  continued  to  fight,  it  is  obvious 
that  it  was  the  other  dogs  that  died.  He  never  knew 
defeat.  His  early  training,  when  he  fought  with  Lip- 
lip  and  the  whole  puppy-pack,  stood  him  in  good 
stead.  There  was  the  tenacity  with  which  he  clung 
to    the    earth.     No    dog    could    make    him    lose    his 


THE   REIGN   OF   HATE  221 

footing.  This  was  the  favorite  trick  of  the  wolf 
breeds  —  to  rush  in  upon  him,  either  directly  or  with 
an  unexpected  swerve,  in  the  hope  of  striking  his 
shoulder  and  overthrowing  him.  Mackenzie  hounds, 
Eskimo  and  Labrador  dogs,  huskies  and  Malemutes 
—  all  tried  it  on  him,  and  all  failed.  He  was  never 
known  to  lose  his  footing.  Men  told  this  to  one 
another,  and  looked  each  time  to  see  it  happen ;  but 
White  Fang  always  disappointed  them. 

Then  there  was  his  lightning  quickness.  It  gave 
him  a  tremendous  advantage  over  his  antagonists. 
No  matter  what  their  fighting  experience,  they  had 
never  encountered  a  dog  that  moved  so  swiftly  as  he. 
Also  to  be  reckoned  with,  was  the  immediateness  of 
his  attack.  The  average  dog  was  accustomed  to  the 
preliminaries  of  snarling  and  bristling  and  growling, 
and  the  average  dog  was  knocked  off  his  feet  and 
finished  before  he  had  begun  to  fight  or  recovered  from 
his  surprise.  So  often  did  this  happen,  that  it  be- 
came the  custom  to  hold  White  Fang  until  the  other 
dog  went  through  its  preliminaries,  was  good  and 
ready,  and  even  made  the  first  attack. 

But  greatest  of  all  the  advantages  in  White  Fang's 
favor,  was  his  experience.  He  knew  more  about 
fighting  than  did  any  of  the  dogs  that  faced  him. 
He  had  fought  more  fights,  knew  how  to  meet  more 
tricks  and  methods,  and  had  more  tricks  himself,  while 
his  own  method  was  scarcely  to  be  improved  upon. 


222  WHITE   FANG 

As  the  time  went  by,  he  had  fewer  and  fewer 
fights.  Men  despaired  of  matching  him  with  an 
equal,  and  Beauty  Smith  was  compelled  to  pit  wolves 
against  him.  These  were  trapped  by  the  Indians  for 
the  purpose,  and  a  fight  between  White  Fang  and  a 
wolf  was  always  sure  to  draw  a  crowd.  Once,  a  full- 
grown  female  lynx  was  secured,  and  this  time  White 
Fang  fought  for  his  life.  Her  quickness  matched 
his ;  her  ferocity  equalled  his ;  while  he  fought  with 
his  fangs  alone,  and  she  fought  with  her  sharp-clawed 
feet  as  well. 

But  after  the  lynx,  all  fighting  ceased  for  White 
Fang.  There  were  no  more  animals  with  which  to 
fight  —  at  least,  there  was  none  considered  worthy  of 
fighting  with  him.  So  he  remained  on  exhibition 
until  spring,  when  one  Tim  Keenan,  a  faro-dealer, 
arrived  in  the  land.  With  him  came  the  first  bull- 
dog that  had  ever  entered  the  Klondike.  That  this 
dog  and  White  Fang  should  come  together  was  inevi- 
table, and  for  a  week  the  anticipated  fight  was  the 
mainspring  of  conversation  in  certain  quarters  of  the 
town. 


CHAPTER    IV 


THE    CLINGING    DEATH 


Beauty  Smith  slipped  the  chain  from  his  neck  and 
stepped  back. 

For  once  White  Fang  did  not  make  an  immediate 
attack.  He  stood  still,  ears  pricked  forward,  alert 
and  curious,  surveying  the  strange  animal  that  faced 
him.  He  had  never  seen  such  a  dog  before.  Tim 
Keenan  shoved  the  bulldog  forward  with  a  muttered 
"  Go  to  it."  The  animal  waddled  toward  the  centre 
of  the  circle,  short  and  squat  and  ungainly.  He  came 
to  a  stop  and  blinked  across  at  White  Fang. 

There  were  cries  from  the  crowd  of  "  Go  to  him, 
Cherokee  !  "     "  Sick  'm,  Cherokee  !  "     "  Eat  'm  up  !  " 

But  Cherokee  did  not  seem  anxious  to  hght.  He 
turned  his  head  and  blinked  at  the  men  who  shouted, 
at  the  same  time  wagging  his  stump  of  a  tail  good- 
naturedly.  He  was  not  afraid,  but  merely  lazy. 
Besides,  it  did  not  seem  to  him  that  it  was  intended 
he  should  fight  with  the  dog  he  saw  before  him.  He 
was  not  used  to  fighting  with  that  kind  of  dog,  and 
he  was  waiting  for  them  to  bring  on  the  real  dog. 

223 


224  WHITE    FANG 

Tim  Keenan  stepped  in  and  bent  over  Cherokee, 
fondling  him  on  both  sides  of  the  shoulders  with 
hands  that  rubbed  against  the  grain  of  the  hair  and 
that  made  slight,  pushing-forward  movements.  These 
were  so  many  suggestions.  Also,  their  effect  was 
irritating,  for  Cherokee  began  to  growl,  very  softly, 
deep  down  in  his  throat.  There  was  a  correspondence 
in  rhythm  between  the  growls  and  the  movements  of 
the  man's  hands.  The  growl  rose  in  the  throat  with 
the  culmination  of  each  forward-pushing  movement, 
and  ebbed  down  to  start  up  afresh  with  the  beginning 
of  the  next  movement.  The  end  of  each  movement 
was  the  accent  of  the  rhythm,  the  movement  ending 
abruptly  and  the  growling  rising  with  a  jerk. 

This  was  not  without  its  effect  on  White  Fang. 
The  hair  began  to  rise  on  his  neck  and  across  the 
shoulders.  Tim  Keenan  gave  a  final  shove  forward 
and  stepped  back  again.  As  the  impetus  that  carried 
Cherokee  forward  died  down,  he  continued  to  go  for- 
ward of  his  own  volition,  in  a  swift,  bow-legged  run. 
Then  White  Fang  struck.  A  cry  of  startled  admira- 
tion went  up.  He  had  covered  the  distance  and  gone 
in  more  like  a  cat  than  a  dog ;  and  with  the  same  cat- 
like swiftness  he  had  slashed  with  his  fangs  and  leaped 
clear. 

The  bulldog  was  bleeding  back  of  one  ear  from  a 
rip  in  his  thick  neck.  He  gave  no  sign,  did  not  even 
snarl,  but    turned  and    followed    after  White   Fang. 


THE   CLINGING   DEATH  225 

The  display  on  both  sides,  the  quickness  of  the  one 
and  the  steadiness  of  the  other,  had  excited  the  par- 
tisan spirit  of  the  crowd,  and  the  men  were  making 
new  bets  and  increasing  original  bets.  Again,  and 
yet  again.  White  Fang  sprang  in,  slashed,  and  got 
away  untouched  ;  and  still  his  strange  foe  followed 
after  him,  without  too  great  haste,  not  slowly,  but 
deliberately  and  determinedly,  in  a  businesslike  sort 
of  way.  There  was  purpose  in  his  method  —  some- 
thing for  him  to  do  that  he  was  intent  upon  doing 
and  from  which  nothing  could  distract  him. 

His  whole  demeanor,  every  action,  was  stamped 
with  this  purpose.  It  puzzled  White  Fang.  Never 
had  he  seen  such  a  dog.  It  had  no  hair  protection. 
It  was  soft,  and  bled  easily.  There  was  no  thick 
mat  of  fur  to  baffle  White  Fang's  teeth,  as  they 
were  often  baffled  by  dogs  of  his  own  breed.  Each 
time  that  his  teeth  struck  they  sank  easily  into  the 
yielding  flesh,  while  the  animal  did  not  seem  able 
to  defend  itself.  Another  disconcerting  thing  was 
that  it  made  no  outcry,  such  as  he  had  been  accus- 
tomed to  with  the  other  dogs  he  had  fought.  Be- 
yond a  growl  or  a  grunt,  the  dog  took  its  punishment 
silently.     And  never  did  it  flag  in  its  pursuit  of  him. 

Not  that  Cherokee  was  slow.  He  could  turn  and 
whirl  swiftly  enough,  but  White  Fang  was  never  there. 
Cherokee  was  puzzled,  too.  He  had  never  fought 
before  with  a  dog  with  which    he  could   not   close. 


226  WHITE   FANG 

The  desire  to  close  had  always  been  mutual.  But 
here  was  a  dog  that  kept  at  a  distance,  dancing  and 
dodging  here  and  there  and  all  about.  And  when 
it  did  get  its  teeth  into  him,  it  did  not  hold  on 
but  let  go  instantly  and  darted  away  again. 

But  White  Fang  could  not  get  at  the  soft  under- 
side of  the  throat.  The  bulldog  stood  too  short, 
w^hile  its  massive  jaws  were  an  added  protection. 
White  Fang  darted  in  and  out  unscathed,  while 
Cherokee's  wounds  increased.  Both  sides  of  his 
neck  and  head  were  ripped  and  slashed.  He  bled 
freely,  but  showed  no  signs  of  being  disconcerted. 
He  continued  his  plodding  pursuit,  though  once,  for 
the  moment  baffled,  he  came  to  a  full  stop  and 
blinked  at  the  men  who  looked  on,  at  the  same  time 
wagging  his  stump  of  a  tail  as  an  expression  of  his 
willingness  to  fight. 

In  that  moment  White  Fang  was  in  upon  him  and 
out,  in  passing  ripping  his  trimmed  remnant  of  an 
ear.  With  a  slight  manifestation  of  anger,  Cherokee 
took  up  the  pursuit  again,  running  on  the  inside  of 
the  circle  White  Fang  was  making,  and  striving  to 
fasten  his  deadly  grip  on  White  Fang's  throat.  The 
bulldog  missed  by  a  hair's-breadth,  and  cries  of 
praise  went  up  as  White  Fang  doubled  suddenly  out 
of  danger  in  the  opposite  direction. 

The  time  went  by.  White  Fang  still  danced  on, 
dodging  and  doubling,  leaping  in  and  out,  and  ever 


THE   CLINGING   DEATH  227 

inflicting  damage.  And  still  the  bulldog,  with  grim 
certitude,  toiled  after  him.  Sooner  or  later  he  would 
accomplish  his  purpose,  get  the  grip  that  would  win 
the  battle.  In  the  meantime  he  accepted  all  the 
punishment  the  other  could  deal  him.  His  tufts  of 
ears  had  become  tassels,  his  neck  and  shoulders  were 
slashed  in  a  score  of  places,  and  his  very  lips  were 
cut  and  bleeding  —  all  from  those  lightning  snaps 
that  were  beyond  his  foreseeing  and  guarding. 

Time  and  again  White  Fang  had  attempted  to 
knock  Cherokee  off  his  feet ;  but  the  difference  in 
their  height  was  too  great.  Cherokee  was  too  squat, 
too  close  to  the  ground.  White  Fang  tried  the  trick 
once  too  often.  The  chance  came  in  one  of  his  quick 
doublings  and  counter-circlings.  He  caught  Cherokee 
with  head  turned  away  as  he  whirled  more  slowly. 
His  shoulder  was  exposed.  White  Fang  drove  in  upon 
it ;  but  his  own  shoulder  was  high  above,  while  he 
struck  with  such  force  that  his  momentum  carried 
him  on  across  over  the  other's  body.  For  the  first 
time  in  his  fighting  history,  men  saw  White  Fang 
lose  his  footing.  His  body  turned  a  half-somersault 
in  the  air,  and  he  would  have  landed  on  his  back 
had  he  not  twisted,  catlike,  still  in  the  air,  in  the 
effort  to  bring  his  feet  to  the  earth.  As  it  was,  he 
struck  heavily  on  his  side.  The  next  instant  he  was 
on  his  feet,  but  in  that  instant  Cherokee's  teeth 
closed  on  his  throat. 


228  WHITE   FANG 

It  was  not  a  good  grip,  being  too  low  down  toward 
the  chest ;  but  Cherokee  held  on.  White  Fang  sprang 
to  his  feet  and  tore  wildly  around,  trying  to  shake 
off  the  bulldog's  body.  It  made  him  frantic,  this 
clinging,  dragging  weight.  It  bound  his  movements, 
restricted  his  freedom.  It  was  like  the  trap,  and  all 
his  instinct  resented  it  and  revolted  against  it.  It 
was  a  mad  revolt.  For  several  minutes  he  was  to  all 
intents  insane.  The  basic  life  that  was  in  him  took 
charge  of  him.  The  will  to  exist  of  his  body  surged 
over  him.  He  was  dominated  by  this  mere  flesh-love 
of  life.  All  intelligence  was  gone.  It  was  as  though 
he  had  no  brain.  His  reason  was  unseated  by  the 
blind  yearning  of  the  flesh  to  exist  and  move,  at  all 
hazards  to  move,  to  continue  to  move,  for  movement 
was  the  expression  of  its  existence. 

Round  and  round  he  went,  whirling  and  turning 
and  reversing,  trying  to  shake  off  the  fifty-pound 
weight  that  dragged  at  his  throat.  The  bulldog 
did  little  but  keep  his  grip.  Sometimes,  and  rarely, 
he  managed  to  get  his  feet  to  the  earth  and  for  a 
moment  to  brace  himself  against  White  Fang.  But 
the  next  moment  his  footing  would  be  lost  and  he 
would  be  dragging  around  in  the  whirl  of  one  of 
White  Fang's  mad  gyrations.  Cherokee  identified 
himself  with  his  instinct.  He  knew  that  he  was 
doing  the  right  thing  by  holding  on,  and  there  came 
to   him   certain  blissful    thrills   of    satisfaction.      At 


A\'liiLc  Tuiiu  lure  wildlv  urouiid,  Lr\ 


oil  tlie  bulldog's  body." 


THE   CLINGING   DEATH  229 

such  moments  he  even  closed  his  eyes  and  allowed 
his  body  to  be  hurled  hither  and  thither,  willy-nilly, 
careless  of  any  hurt  that  might  thereby  come  to  it. 
That  did  not  count.  The  grip  was  th^  thing,  and 
the  grip  he  kept. 

White  Fang  ceased  only  when  he  had  tired  himself 
out.  He  could  do  nothing,  and  he  could  not  under- 
stand. Never,  in  all  his  fighting,  had  this  thing 
happened.  The  dogs  he  had  fought  w^ith  did  not 
fight  that  way.  With  them  it  was  snap  and  slash 
and  get  away,  snap  and  slash  and  get  away.  He 
lay  partly  on  his  side,  panting  for  breath.  Chero- 
kee, still  holding  his  grip,  urged  against  him,  trying 
to  get  him  over  entirely  on  his  side.  White  Fang 
resisted,  and  he  could  feel  the  jaws  shifting  their 
grip,  slightly  relaxing  and  coming  together  again  in 
a  chewing  movement.  Each  shift  brought  the  grip 
closer  in  to  his  throat.  The  bulldog's  method  was 
to  hold  what  he  had,  and  when  opportunity  favored 
to  work  in  for  more.  Opportunity  favored  w^hen 
White  Fang  remained  quiet.  When  White  Fang 
struggled,  Cherokee  was  content  merely  to  hold  on. 

The  bulging  back  of  Cherokee's  neck  was  the  only 
portion  of  his  body  that  White  Fang's  teeth  could 
reach.  He  got  hold  toward  the  base  where  the  neck 
comes  out  from  the  shoulders ;  but  he  did  not  know 
the  chewing  method  of  fighting,  nor  were  his  jaws 
adapted    to  it.     He   spasmodically  ripped    and    tore 


230  WHITE   FANG 

with  his  fangs  for  a  space.  Then  a  change  in  their 
position  diverted  him.  The  bulldog  had  managed 
to  roll  him  over  on  his  back,  and  still  hanging  on 
to  his  throat,  was  on  top  of  him.  Like  a  cat,  White 
Fang  bowed  his  hind-quarters  in,  and,  with  the  feet 
digging  into  his  enemy's  abdomen  above  him,  he  be- 
gan to  claw  with  long^  tearing  strokes.  Cherokee 
might  well  have  been  disembowelled  had  he  not 
quickly  pivoted  on  his  grip  and  got  his  body  off  of 
White  Fang's  and  at  right  angles  to  it. 

There  was  no  escaping  that  grip.  It  was  like  Fate 
itself,  and  as  inexorable.  Slowly  it  shifted  up  alcng 
the  jugular.  All  that  saved  White  Fang  from  death 
was  the  loose  skin  of  his  neck  and  the  thick  fur  that 
covered  it.  This  served  to  form  a  large  roll  in  Chero- 
kee's mouth,  the  fur  of  which  well-nigh  defied  his 
teeth.  But  bit  by  bit,  whenever  the  chance  offered, 
he  was  getting  more  of  the  loose  skin  and  fur  in  his 
mouth.  The  result  was  that  he  was  slowly  throt- 
tling White  Fang.  The  latter's  breath  was  drawn 
with  greater  and  greater  difficulty  as  the  moments 
went  by. 

It  began  to  look  as  though  the  battle  were  over.    / 
The  backers  of  Cherokee  waxed  jubilant  and  offered  ( 
ridiculous  odds.     White   Fang's  backers  were  corre- 
spondingly depressed,  and  refused  bets  of  ten  to  one 
and  twenty  to  one,  though  one  man  was  rash  enough    ) 
to   close  a    wager   of    fifty  to   one.      This  man  was 


THE   CLINGING   DEATH  231 

Beauty  Smith.  He  took  a  step  into  the  ring  and 
pointed  his  finger  at  White  Fang.  Then  he  began 
to  laugh  derisively  and  scornfully.  This  produced 
the  desired  effect.  White  Fang  went  wild  with  rage. 
He  called  up  his  reserves  of  strength  and  gained 
his  feet.  As  he  struggled  around  the  ring,  the  fifty 
pounds  of  his  foe  ever  dragging  on  his  throat,  his 
anger  passed  on  into  panic.  The  basic  life  of  him 
dominated  him  again,  and  his  intelligence  fled  before 
the  will  of  his  flesh  to  live.  Round  and  round  and 
back  again,  stumbling  and  falling  and  rising,  even 
uprearing  at  times  on  his  hind-legs  and  lifting  his  foe 
clear  of  the  earth,  he  struggled  vainly  to  shake  off 
the  clinging  death. 

At  last  he  fell,  toppling  backward,  exhausted ;  and 
the  bulldog  promptly  shifted  his  grip,  getting  in 
closer,  mangling  more  and  more  of  the  fur-folded 
flesh,  throttling  White  Fang  more  severely  than  ever. 
Shouts  of  applause  went  up  for  the  victor,  and  there 
were  many  cries  of  "  Cherokee  !  "  "  Cherokee  !  "  To 
this  Cherokee  responded  by  vigorous  wagging  of  the 
stump  of  his  tail.  But  the  clamor  of  approval  did 
not  distract  him.  There  was  no  sympathetic  relation 
between  his  tail  and  his  massive  jaws.  The  one 
might  wag,  but  the  others  held  their  terrible  grip  on 
White  Fang's  throat. 

It  was  at  this  time  that  a  diversion  came  to  the 
spectators.       There    was    a    jingle    of    bells.       Dog- 


23^  WHITE   FANG 

mushers'  cries  were  heard.  Everybody,  save  Beauty 
Smith,  looked  apprehensively,  the  fear  of  the  police 
strong  upon  them.  But  they  saw,  up  the  trail,  and 
not  down,  two  men  running  with  sled  and  dogs. 
They  were  evidently  coming  down  the  creek  from 
some  prospecting  trip.  At  sight  of  the  crowd  they 
stopped  their  dogs  and  came  over  and  joined  it, 
curious  to  see  the  cause  of  the  excitement.  The  dog- 
musher  wore  a  mustache,  but  the  other,  a  taller  and 
younger  man,  was  smooth-shaven,  his  skin  rosy  from 
the  pounding  of  his  blood  and  the  running  in  the 
frosty  air. 

White  Fang  had  practically  ceased  struggling. 
Now  and  again  he  resisted  spasmodically  and  to  no 
purpose.  He  could  get  little  air,  and  that  little  grew 
less  and  less  under  the  merciless  grip  that  ever  tight- 
ened. In  spite  of  his  armor  of  fur,  the  great  vein 
of  his  throat  would  have  long  since  been  torn 
open,  had  not  the  first  grip  of  the  bulldog  been  so 
low  down  as  to  be  practically  on  the  chest.  It  had 
taken  Cherokee  a  long  time  to  shift  that  grip  upward, 
and  this  had  also  tended  further  to  clog  his  jaws  with 
fur  and  skin-fold. 

In  the  meantime,  the  abysmal  brute  in  Beauty 
Smith  had  been  rising  up  into  his  brain  and  master- 
ing the  small  bit  of  sanity  that  he  possessed  at  best. 
When  he  saw  White  Fang's  eyes  beginning  to  glaze, 
he  knew  beyond  doubt  that  the  fight  was  lost.    Then 


THE  CLINGING   DEATH  233 

he  broke  loose.  He  sprang  upon  White  Fang  and 
began  savagely  to  kick  him.  There  were  hisses  from 
the  crowd  and  cries  of  protest,  but  that  was  all. 
While  this  went  on,  and  Beauty  Smith  continued 
to  kick  White  Fang,  there  was  a  commotion  in  the 
crowd.  The  tall  young  newcomer  was  forcing  his 
way  through,  shouldering  men  right  and  left  without 
ceremony  or  gentleness.  When  he  broke  through 
into  the  ring,  Beauty  Smith  was  just  in  the  act  of 
delivering  another  kick.  All  his  weight  was  on  one 
foot,  and  he  was  in  a  state  of  unstable  equilibrium. 
At  that  moment  the  nev/comer's  fist  landed  a  smash- 
ing blow  full  in  his  face.  Beauty  Smith's  remaining 
leg  left  the  ground,  and  his  whole  body  seemed  to 
lift  into  the  air  as  he  turned  over  backward  and 
struck  the  snow.  The  newcomer  turned  upon  the 
crowxl. 

"  You  cowards  !  "  he  cried.  "  You  beasts  !  " 
He  was  in  a  rage  himself  —  a  sane  rage.  His  gray 
eyes  seemed  metallic  and  steel-like  as  they  flashed 
upon  the  crowd.  Beauty  Smith  regained  his  feet 
and  came  toward  him,  sniffling  and  cowardly.  The 
newcomer  did  not  understand.  He  did  not  know 
how  abject  a  coward  the  other  was,  and  thought  he 
was  coming  back  intent  on  fighting.  So,  with  a 
"  You  beast !  "  he  smashed  Beauty  Smith  over  back- 
ward with  a  second  blow  in  the  face.  Beauty  Smith 
decided  that  the  snow  was  the  safest  place  for  him, 


234  WHITE   FANG 

and  lay  where  he  had  fallen,  making  no  effort  to 
get  up. 

"Come  on,  Matt,  lend  a  hand,"  the  newcomer 
called  to  the  dog-musher,  who  had  followed  him  into 
the  ring. 

Both  men  bent  over  the  dogs.  Matt  took  hold  of 
White  Fang,  ready  to  pull  when  Cherokee's  jaws 
should  be  loosened.  This  the  younger  man  endeav- 
ored to  accomplish  by  clutching  the  bulldog's  jaws 
in  his  hands  and  trying  to  spread  them.  It  was 
a  vain  undertaking.  As  he  pulled  and  tugged  and 
wrenched,  he  kept  exclaiming  with  every  expulsion 
of  breath,  "  Beasts  !  " 

The  crowd  began  to  grow  unruly,  and  some  of  the 
men  were  protesting  against  the  spoiling  of  the  sport ; 
but  they  were  silenced  when  the  newcomer  lifted  his 
head  from  his  work  for  a  moment  and  glared  at 
them. 

"  You  damn  beasts  !  "  he  finally  exploded,  and  went 
back  to  his  task. 

"  It's  no  use,  Mr.  Scott,  you  can't  break  'm  apart 
that  way,"  Matt  said  at  last. 

The  pair  paused  and  surveyed  the  locked  dogs. 

"  Ain't  bleedin'  much,"  Matt  announced.  "  Ain't 
got  all  the  way  in  yet." 

"  But  he's  liable  to  any  moment,"  Scott  answered. 
"  There,  did  you  see  that !  He  shifted  his  grip  in 
a  bit." 


THE  CLINGING   DEATH  235 

The  younger  man's  excitement  and  apprehension 
for  White  Fang  was  growing.  He  struck  Cherokee 
about  the  head  savagely  again  and  again.  But  that 
did  not  loosen  the  jaws.  Cherokee  w^agged  the  stump 
of  his  tail  in  advertisement  that  he  understood  the 
meaning  of  the  blows,  but  that  he  knew  he  was  him- 
self in  the  right  and  only  doing  his  duty  by  keeping 
his  grip. 

"  Won't  some  of  you  help  ?  "  Scott  cried  desperately 
at  the  crowd. 

But  no  help  was  offered.  Instead,  the  crowd  began 
sarcastically  to  cheer  him  on  and  showered  him  with 
facetious  advice. 

"  You'll  have  to  get  a  pry,"  Matt  counselled. 

The  other  reached  into  the  holster  at  his  hip,  drew 
his  revolver,  and  tried  to  thrust  its  muzzle  between 
the  bulldog's  jaws.  He  shoved,  and  shoved  hard, 
till  the  grating  of  the  steel  against  the  locked  teeth 
could  be  distinctly  heard.  Both  men  were  on  their 
knees,  bending  over  the  dogs.  Tim  Keenan  strode 
into  the  ring.  He  paused  beside  Scott  and  touched 
him  on  the  shoulder,  saying  ominously : 

"  Don't  break  them  teeth,  stranger." 

"Then  I'll  break  his  neck,"  Scott  retorted,  continu- 
ing his  shoving  and  wedging  wdth  the  revolver 
muzzle. 

'<  I  said  don't  break  them  teeth,"  the  faro-dealer 
repeated  more  ominously  than  before. 


236  WHITE   FANG 

But  if  it  was  a  bluff  he  intended,  it  did  not  work. 
Scott  never  desisted  from  his  efforts,  though  he 
looked  up  coolly  and  asked : 

"  Your  dog  ?  " 

The  faro-dealer  grunted. 

"  Then  get  in  here  and  break  this  grip." 

"Well,  stranger,"  the  other  drawled  irritatingly, 
"  I  don't  mind  telling  you  that's  something  I  ain't 
worked  out  for  myself.  I  don't  know  how  to  turn 
the  trick." 

"  Then  get  out  of  the  way,"  was  the  reply,  "  and 
don't  bother  me.     I'm  busy." 

Tim  Keenan  continued  standing  over  him,  but 
Scott  took  no  further  notice  of  his  presence.  He  had 
managed  to  get  the  muzzle  in  between  the  jaws  on 
one  side,  and  was  trying  to  get  it  out  between  the 
jaws  on  the  other  side.  This  accomplished,  he  pried 
gently  and  carefully,  loosening  the  jaws  a  bit  at  a 
time,  while  Matt,  a  bit  at  a  time,  extricated  White 
Fang's  mangled  neck. 

"  Stand  by  to  receive  your  dog,"  was  Scott's  per- 
emptory order  to  Cherokee's  owner. 

The  faro-dealer  stooped  down  obediently  and  got  a 
firm  hold  on  Cherokee. 

"  Now  !  "  Scott  warned,  giving  the  final  pry. 

The  dogs  were  drawn  apart,  the  bulldog  struggling 
vigorously. 

"Take  him  away,"  Scott  commanded,  and  Tim 
Keenan  dragged  Cherokee  back  into  the  crowd. 


THE  CLINGING   DEATH  237 

White  Fang  made  several  ineffectual  efforts  to  get 
up.  Once  he  gained  his  feet,  but  his  legs  were  too 
weak  to  sustain  him,  and  he  slowly  wilted  and  sank 
back  into  the  snow.  His  eyes  were  half  closed,  and 
the  surface  of  them  was  glassy.  His  jaws  were 
apart,  and  through  them  the  tongue  protruded, 
draggled  and  limp.  To  all  appearances  he  looked  like 
a  dog  that  had  been  strangled  to  death.  Matt  ex- 
amined him. 

"  Just  about  all  in,"  he  announced ;  "  but  he's 
breathin'  all  right." 

Beauty  Smith  had  regained  his  feet  and  come  over 
to  look  at  White  Fang. 

"  Matt,  how  much  is  a  good  sled-dog  worth  ? " 
Scott  asked. 

The  dog-musher,  still  on  his  knees  and  stooped  over 
White  Fang,  calculated  for  a  moment. 

"  Three  hundred  dollars,"  he  answered. 

"  And  how  much  for  one  that's  all  chewed  up  like 
this  one  ? "  Scott  asked,  nudging  White  Fang  with 
his  foot. 

"  Half  of  that,"  was  the  dog-musher's  judgment. 

Scott  turned  upon  Beauty  Smith. 

"Did  you  hear,  Mr.  Beast?  I'm  going  to  take 
your  dog  from  you,  and  I'm  going  to  give  you  a  hun- 
dred and  fifty  for  him." 

He  opened  his  pocket-book  and  counted  out  the 
bills. 


238  WHITE   FANG 

Beauty  Smith  put  his  hands  behind  his  back,  re- 
fusing to  touch  the  proffered  money. 

"  I  ain't  a-sellinV'  he  said. 

"  Oh,  yes  you  are,"  the  other  assured  him.  "  Be- 
cause I'm  buying.  Here's  your  money.  The  dog's 
mine." 

Beauty  Smith,  his  hands  still  behind  him,  began  to 
back  away. 

Scott  sprang  toward  him,  drawing  his  fist  back  to 
strike.  Beauty  Smith  cowered  down  in  anticipation 
of  the  blow. 

"I've  got  my  rights,"  he  whimpered. 

"  You've  forfeited  your  rights  to  own  that  dog," 
was  the  rejoinder.  "  Are  you  going  to  take  the 
money  ?  or  do  I  have  to  hit  you  again  ?  " 

"  All  right,"  Beauty  Smith  spoke  up  with  the 
alacrity  of  fear.  "  But  I  take  the  money  under  pro- 
test," he  added.  "  The  dog's  a  mint.  I  ain't  a-goin' 
to  be  robbed.     A  man's  got  his  rights." 

"  Correct,"  Scott  answered,  passing  the  money 
over  to  him.  "  A  man's  got  his  rights.  But  you're 
not  a  man.     You're  a  beast." 

"  Wait  till  I  get  back  to  Dawson,"  Beauty  Smith 
threatened.     "  I'll  have  the  law  on  you." 

"  If  you  open  your  mouth  when  you  get  back  to 
Dawson,  I'll  have  you  run  out  of  town.    Understand  ?  " 

Beauty  Smith  replied  with  a  grunt. 

"  Understand  ?  "  the  other  thundered  with  abrupt 
fierceness. 


THE  CLINGING  DEATH  239 

"Yes,"  Beauty  Smith  grunted,  shrinking  away. 

"  Yes  what  ?  " 

"Yes,  sir,"  Beauty  Smith  snarled. 

"  Look  out !  He'll  bite  !  "  some  one  shouted,  and  a 
guffaw  of  laughter  went  up. 

Scott  turned  his  back  on  him,  and  returned  to  help 
the  dog-musher,  who  was  working  over  White  Fang. 

Some  of  the  men  were  already  departing ;  others 
stood  in  groups,  looking  on  and  talking.  Tim  Keenan 
joined  one  of  the  groups. 

"  Who's  that  mug  ?  "  he  asked. 

"  Weedon  Scott,"  some  one  answered. 

"  And  who  in  hell  is  Weedon  Scott  ? "  the  faro- 
dealer  demanded. 

"  Oh,  one  of  them  crack-a-jack  minin'  experts.  He's 
in  with  all  the  big  bugs.  K  you  want  to  keep  out 
of  trouble,  you'll  steer  clear  of  him,  that's  my  talk. 
He's  all  hunky  with  the  officials.  The  Gold  Commis- 
sioner's a  special  pal  of  his." 

"  I  thought  he  must  be  somebody,"  was  the  faro- 
dealer's  comment.  "  That's  why  I  kept  my  hands 
offen  him  at  the  start." 


CHAPTER    V 


THE  INDOMITABLE 


"  It's  hopeless,"  Weedon  Scott  confessed. 

He  sat  on  the  step  of  his  cabin  and  stared  at  the 
dog-musher,  who  responded  with  a  shrug  that  was 
equally  hopeless. 

Together  they  looked  at  White  Fang  at  the  end 
of  his  stretched  chain,  bristling,  snarling,  ferocious, 
straining  to  get  at  the  sled-dogs.  Having  received 
sundry  lessons  from  Matt,  said  lessons  being  imparted 
by  means  of  a  club,  the  sled-dogs  had  learned  to  leave 
White  Fang  alone ;  and  even  then  they  were  lying 
down  at  a  distance,  apparently  oblivious  of  his 
existence. 

"  It's  a  wolf  and  there's  no  taming  it,"  Weedon 
Scott  announced. 

"Oh,  I  don't  know  about  that,"  Matt  objected. 
"  Might  be  a  lot  of  dog  in  'm,  for  all  you  can  tell. 
But  there's  one  thing  I  know  sure,  an'  that  there's 
no  gettin'  away  from." 

The  dog-musher  paused  and  nodded  his  head  con- 
fidentially at  Moosehide  Mountain. 

240 


THE   INDOMITABLE  241 

"Well,  don't  be  a  miser  with  what  you  know," 
Scott  said  sharply,  after  waiting  a  suitable  length  of 
time.      "  Spit  it  out.     What  is  it  ?  " 

The  dog-musher  indicated  White  Fang  with  a  back- 
ward thrust  of  his  thumb. 

"Wolf  or  dog,  it's  all  the  same  —  he's  ben  tamed 
a'read}^" 

"  No  !  " 

"  I  tell  you  yes,  an'  broke  to  harness.  Look  close 
there.     D'ye  see  them  marks  across  the  chest  ?  " 

"  You're  right.  Matt.  He  was  a  sled-dog  before 
Beauty  Smith  got  hold  of  him." 

"  An'  there's  not  much  reason  against  his  bein'  a 
sled-dog  again." 

"  What  d'ye  think  ?  "  Scott  queried  eagerly.  Then 
the  hope  died  down  as  he  added,  shaking  his  head, 
"  WeVe  had  him  two  weeks  now,  and  if  anything, 
he's  wilder  than  ever  at  the  present  moment." 

"  Give  'm  a  chance,"  Matt  counselled.  "  Turn  'm 
loose  for  a  spell." 

The  other  looked  at  him  incredulously. 

"  Yes,"  Matt  went  on,  "  I  know  you've  tried  to,  but 
you  didn't  take  a  club." 

"  You  try  it  then." 

The  dog-musher  secured  a  club  and  went  over  to 
the  chained  animal.  White  Fang  watched  the  club 
after  the  manner  of  a  caged  lion  watching  the  whip 
of  its  trainer. 


242  WHITE   FANG 

«'  See  'm  keep  his  eye  on  that  club,"  Matt  said. 
''  That's  a  good  sign.  He's  no  fool.  Don't  dast 
tackle  me  so  long  as  I  got  that  club  handy.  He's  not 
clean  crazy,  sure." 

As  the  man's  hand  approached  his  neck.  White 
Fang  bristled  and  snarled  and  crouched  down.  But 
while  he  eyed  the  approaching  hand,  he  at  the  same 
time  contrived  to  keep  track  of  the  club  in  the  other 
hand,  suspended  threateningly  above  him.  Matt 
unsnapped  the  chain  from  the  collar  and  stepped 
back. 

White  Fang  could  scarcely  realize  that  he  was  free. 
Many  months  had  gone  by  since  he  passed  into  the 
possession  of  Beauty  Smith,  and  in  all  that  period  he 
had  never  known  a  moment  of  freedom  except  at  the 
times  he  had  been  loosed  to  fight  with  other  dogs. 
Immediatel}^  after  such  fights  he  had  always  been 
imprisoned  again. 

He  did  not  know  what  to  make  of  it.  Perhaps 
some  new  deviltry  of  the  gods  was  about  to  be  per- 
petrated on  him.  He  walked  slowly  and  cautiously, 
prepared  to  be  assailed  at  any  moment.  He  did  not 
know  what  to  do,  it  was  all  so  unprecedented.  He 
took  the  precaution  to  sheer  off  from  the  two  watching 
gods,  and  walked  carefully  to  the  corner  of  the  cabin. 
Nothing  happened.  He  was  plainly  perplexed,  and 
he  came  back  again,  pausing  a  dozen  feet  away  and 
regarding  the  two  men  intently. 


THE   INDOMITABLE  243 

"  Won't  he  run  away  ?  "  his  new  owner  asked. 

Matt  shrugged  his  shoulders.  ''  Got  to  take  a 
gamble.     Only  way  to  find  out  is  to  find  out." 

"  Poor  devil,"  Scott  murmured  pityingly.  "  What 
he  needs  is  some  show  of  human  kindness,"  he  added, 
turning  and  going  into  the  cabin. 

He  came  out  with  a  piece  of  meat,  which  he  tossed 
to  White  Fang.  He  sprang  away  from  it,  and  from 
a  distance  studied  it  suspiciously. 

"  Hi-yu,  Major  !  "  Matt  shouted  warningly,  but  too 
late. 

Major  had  made  a  spring  for  the  meat.  At  the 
instant  his  jaws  closed  on  it.  White  Fang  struck  him. 
He  was  overthrown.  Matt  rushed  in,  but  quicker 
than  he  was  White  Fang.  Major  staggered  to  his 
feet,  but  the  blood  spouting  from  his  throat  reddened 
the  snow  in  a  widening  path. 

"  It's  too  bad,  but  it  served  him  right,"  Scott 
said  hastily. 

But  Matt's  foot  had  already  started  on  its  way  to 
kick  White  Fang.  There  was  a  leap,  a  flash  of  teeth, 
a  sharp  exclamation.  White  Fang,  snarling  fiercely, 
scrambled  backward  for  several  yards,  while  Matt 
stooped  and  investigated  his  leg. 

"  He  got  me  all  right,"  he  announced,  pointing  to 
the  torn  trousers  and  undercloths,  and  the  growing 
stain  of  red. 

"  I  told  you  it  was  hopeless,  Matt,"  Scott  said  in  a 


244  WHITE   FANG 

discouraged  voice.  "  I've  thought  about  it  off  and 
on,  v^hile  not  wanting  to  think  of  it.  But  we've 
come  to  it  now.     It's  the  only  thing  to  do." 

As  he  talked,  with  reluctant  movements  he  drew 
his  revolver,  threw  open  the  cylinder,  and  assured 
himself  of  its  contents. 

"Look  here,  Mr.  Scott,"  Matt  objected;  "that 
dog's  ben  through  hell.  You  can't  expect  'm  to  come 
out  a  white  an'  shinin'  angel.     Give  'm  time." 

"  Look  at  Major,"  the  other  rejoined. 

The  dog-musher  surveyed  the  stricken  dog.  He 
had  sunk  down  on  the  snow  in  the  circle  of  his  blood, 
and  was  plainly  in  the  last  gasp. 

"  Served  'm  right.  You  said  so  yourself,  Mr.  Scott. 
He  tried  to  take  White  Fang's  meat,  an'  he's  dead-0. 
That  w^as  to  be  expected.  I  wouldn't  give  two 
whoops  in  hell  for  a  dog  that  wouldn't  fight  for  his 
own  meat." 

"  But  look  at  yourself.  Matt.  It's  all  right  about 
the  dogs,  but  we  must  draw  the  line  somewhere." 

"  Served  me  right,"  Matt  argued  stubbornly. 
"  What  'd  I  want  to  kick  'm  for  ?  You  said  yourself 
he'd  done  right.      Then  I  had  no  right  to  kick  'm." 

"  It  would  be  a  merc}^  to  kill  him,"  Scott  insisted. 
"  He's  untamable." 

"Now  look  here,  Mr.  Scott,  give  the  poor  devil  a 
■fightin'  chance.  He  ain't  had  no  chance  yet.  He's 
just  come  through  hell,  an'  this  is  the  first  time  he's 


THE   INDOMITABLE  245 

ben  loose.  Give  'm  a  fair  chance,  an'  if  he  don't 
deliver  the  goods,  I'll  kill  'm  myself.     There  !  " 

"  God  knows  I  don't  want  to  kill  him  or  have  him 
killed,"  Scott  answered,  putting  away  the  revolver. 
"  We'll  let  him  run  loose  and  see  what  kindness  can 
do  for  him.     And  here's  a  try  at  it." 

He  walked  over  to  White  Fang  and  began  talking 
to  him  gently  and  soothingly. 

"  Better  have  a  club  handy,"  Matt  warned. 

Scott  shook  his  head  and  went  on  trying  to  win 
White  Fang's  confidence. 

White  Fang  was  suspicious.  Something  was  im- 
pending. He  had  killed  this  god's  dog,  bitten  his 
companion  god,  and  what  else  was  to  be  expected 
than  some  terrible  punishment  ?  But  in  the  face  of 
it  he  was  indomitable.  He  bristled  and  showed  his 
teeth,  his  eyes  vigilant,  his  whole  body  wary  and 
prepared  for  anything.  The  god  had  no  club,  so  he 
suffered  him  to  approach  quite  near.  The  god's  hand 
had  come  out  and  was  descending  upon  his  head. 
White  Fang  shrank  together  and  grew  tense  as  he 
crouched  under  it.  Here  was  danger,  some  treachery 
or  something.  He  knew  the  hands  of  the  gods,  their 
proved  mastery,  their  cunning  to  hurt.  Besides,  there 
was  his  old  antipathy  to  being  touched.  He  snarled 
more  menacingly,  crouched  still  lower,  and  still  the 
hand  descended.  He  did  not  want  to  bite  the  hand, 
and  he  endured  the  peril  of  it  until  his  instinct  surged 


246  WHITE   FANG 

up  in  him,  mastering  him  with  its  insatiable  yearning 
for  life. 

Weedon  Scott  had  believed  that  he  was  quick 
enough  to  avoid  any  snap  or  slash.  But  he  had  yet 
to  learn  the  remarkable  quickness  of  White  Fang,  who 
struck  with  the  certainty  and  swiftness  of  a  coiled 
snake. 

Scott  cried  out  sharply  with  surprise,  catching  his 
torn  hand  and  holding  it  tightly  in  his  other  hand. 
Matt  uttered  a  great  oath  and  sprang  to  his  side. 
White  Fang  crouched  dowm  and  backed  away,  bris- 
tling, showing  his  fangs,  his  eyes  malignant  with 
menace.  Now  he  could  expect  a  beating  as  fearful  as 
any  he  had  received  from  Beauty  Smith. 

"  Here !  What  are  you  doing  ? "  Scott  cried 
suddenly. 

Matt  had  dashed  into  the  cabin  and  come  out  with 
a  rifle. 

"  Nothin',''  he  said  slowly,  with  a  careless  calmness 
that  was  assumed;  "only  goin'  to  keep  that  promise 
I  made.  I  reckon  it's  up  to  me  to  kill  'm  as  I  said 
I'd  do." 

"  No  you  don't !  " 

"  Yes  I  do.     Watch  me." 

As  Matt  had  pleaded  for  White  Fang  when  he  had 
been  bitten,  it  was  now  Weedon  Scott's  turn  to 
plead. 

"  You  said  to  give  him  a  chance.      Well,  give  it  to 


THE   INDOMITABLE  247 

him.  We've  only  just  started,  and  we  can't  quit  at 
the  beginning.  It  served  me  right,  this  time.  And 
—  look  at  him  !  " 

White  Fang,  near  the  corner  of  the  cabin  and  forty 
feet  away,  was  snarling  with  blood-curdling  vicious- 
ness,  not  at  Scott,  but  at  the  dog-musher. 

«  Well,  I'll  be  everlastin'ly  gosh-swoggled  !  "  was  the 
dog-musher's  expression  of  astonishment. 

''  Look  at  the  intelligence  of  him,"  Scott  went  on 
hastily.  "  He  knows  the  meaning  of  firearms  as  well 
as  you  do.  He's  got  intelligence,  and  we've  got  to 
give  that  intelligence  a  chance.     Put  up  the  gun." 

"  All  right,  I'm  willin',"  Matt  agreed,  leaning  the 
rifle  against  the  woodpile. 

"  But  will  you  look  at  that ! "  he  exclaimed  the 
next  moment. 

White  Fang  had  cjuieted  down  and  ceased  snarling. 

"  This  is  worth  investigatin'.      Watch." 

Matt  reached  for  the  rifle,  and  at  the  same 
moment  White  Fang  snarled.  He  stepped  away  from 
the  rifle,  and  White  Fang's  lifted  lips  descended,  cov- 
ering his  teeth. 

"  Now,  just  for  fun." 

Matt  took  the  rifle  and  began  slowly  to  raise  it  to 
his  shoulder.  White  Fang's  snarling  began  with  the 
movement,  and  increased  as  the  movement  approached 
its  culmination.  But  the  moment  before  the  rifle 
came  to  a  level  on  him,  he  leaped  sidewise  behind  the 


248  WHITE   FANG 

corner  of  the  cabin.  Matt  stood  staring  along  the 
sights  at  the  empty  space  of  snow  which  had  been 
occupied  by  White  Fang. 

The  dog-musher  put  the  rifle  down  solemnly,  then 
turned  and  looked  at  his  employer. 

"  I  agree  with  you,  Mr.  Scott.  That  dog's  too 
intelligent  to  kill." 


CHAPTER   VI 


THE    LOYE-MASTER 


As  White  Fang  watched  Weedon  Scott  approach, 
he  bristled  and  snarled  to  advertise  that  he  would 
not  submit  to  punishment.  Twenty-four  hours  had 
passed  since  he  had  slashed  open  the  hand  that  was 
now  bandaged  and  held  up  by  a  sling  to  keep  the 
blood  out  of  it.  In  the  past  White  Fang  had  experi- 
enced delayed  punishments,  and  he  apprehended  that 
such  a  one  was  about  to  befall  him.  How  could  it 
be  otherwise  ?  He  had  committed  what  was  to  him 
sacrilege,  sunk  his  fangs  into  the  holy  flesh  of  a  god, 
and  of  a  white-skinned  superior  god  at  that.  In  the 
nature  of  things,  and  of  intercourse  with  gods,  some- 
thing terrible  awaited  him. 

The  god  sat  down  several  feet  away.  White  Fang 
could  see  nothing  dangerous  in  that.  When  the  gods 
administered  punishment  they  stood  on  their  legs. 
Besides,  this  god  had  no  club,  no  whip,  no  firearm. 
And  furthermore,  he  himself  was  free.  No  chain 
nor  stick  bound  him.  He  could  escape  into  safety 
while  the  god  was  scrambling  to  his  feet.  In  the 
meantime  he  would  wait  and  see. 

249 


250  WHITE   FANG 

The  god  remained  quiet,  made  no  movement ;  and 
White  Fang's  snarl  slowly  dwindled  to  a  growl  that 
ebbed  down  in  his  throat  and  ceased.  Then  the  god 
spoke,  and  at  the  first  sound  of  his  voice,  the  hair 
rose  on  White  Fang's  neck  and  the  growl  rushed 
up  in  his  throat.  But  the  god  made  no  hostile  move- 
ment, and  went  on  calmly  talking.  For  a  time  White 
Fang  growled  in  unison  with  him,  a  correspondence 
of  rhythm  being  established  between  growl  and 
voice.  But  the  god  talked  on  interminably.  He 
talked  to  White  Fang  as  White  Fang  had  never  been 
talked  to  before.  He  talked  softly  and  soothingly, 
with  a  gentleness  that  somehow,  somewhere,  touched 
White  Fang.  In  spite  of  himself  and  all  the  prick- 
ing warnings  of  his  instinct.  White  Fang  began  to 
have  confidence  in  this  god.  He  had  a  feeling  of  se- 
curity that  was  belied  by  all  his  experience  with  men. 

After  a  long  time,  the  god  got  up  and  went  into 
the  cabin.  White  Fang  scanned  him  apprehensively 
when  he  came  out.  He  had  neither  whip  nor  club 
nor  weapon.  Nor  was  his  uninjured  hand  behind 
his  back  hiding  something.  He  sat  down  as  before, 
in  the  same  spot,  several  feet  away.  He  held  out  a 
small  piece  of  meat.  White  Fang  pricked  his  ears 
and  investigated  it  suspiciously,  managing  to  look  at 
the  same  time  both  at  the  meat  and  the  god,  alert 
for  any  overt  act,  his  body  tense  and  ready  to  spring 
away  at  the  first  sign  of  hostility. 


THE   LOVE-MASTER  251 

Still  the  punishment  delayed.  The  god  merely  held 
near  to  his  nose  a  piece  of  meat.  And  about  the  meat 
there  seemed  nothing  wrong.  Still  White  Fang  sus- 
pected ;  and  though  the  meat  was  proffered  to  him 
with  short  inviting  thrusts  of  the  hand,  he  refused 
to  touch  it.  The  gods  were  all-wise,  and  there  was 
no  telling  what  masterful  treachery  lurked  behind 
that  apparently  harmless  piece  of  meat.  In  past 
experience,  especially  in  dealing  with  squaws,  meat 
and  punishment  had  often  been  disastrously  related. 

In  the  end,  the  god  tossed  the  meat  on  the  snow 
at  White  Fang's  feet.  He  smelled  the  meat  care- 
fully ;  but  he  did  not  look  at  it.  While  he  smelled 
it  he  kept  his  eyes  on  the  god.  Nothing  happened. 
He  took  the  meat  into  his  mouth  and  swallowed  it. 
Still  nothing  happened.  The  god  was  actually  offer- 
ing him  another  piece  of  meat.  Again  he  refused  to 
take  it  from  the  hand,  and  again  it  was  tossed  to  him. 
This  was  repeated  a  number  of  times.  But  there 
came  a  time  when  the  god  refused  to  toss  it.  He 
kept  it  in  his  hand  and  steadfastly  proffered  it. 

The  meat  was  good  meat,  and  White  Fang  was 
hungry.  Bit  by  bit,  infinitely  cautious,  he  ap- 
proached the  hand.  At  last  the  time  came  that 
he  decided  to  eat  the  meat  from  the  hand.  He 
never  took  his  eyes  from  the  god,  thrusting  his  head 
forward  with  ears  flattened  back  and  hair  involun- 
tarily rising  and  cresting  on  his  neck.     Also  a  low 


252  WHITE   FANG 

growl  rumbled  in  his  throat  as  warning  that  he  was 
not  to  be  trifled  with.  He  ate  the  meat,  and  nothing 
happened.  Piece  by  piece,  he  ate  all  the  meat,  and 
nothing  happened.     Still  the  punishment  delayed. 

He  licked  his  chops  and  waited.  The  god  went 
on  talking.  In  his  voice  was  kindness  —  something 
of  which  White  Fang  had  no  experience  whatever. 
And  within  him  it  aroused  feelings  which  he  had 
likewise  never  experienced  before.  He  was  aware 
of  a  certain  strange  satisfaction,  as  though  some  need 
were  being  gratified,  as  though  some  void  in  his 
being  were  being  filled.  Then  again  came  the  prod 
of  his  instinct  and  the  warning  of  past  experience. 
The  gods  were  ever  crafty,  and  they  had  unguessed 
ways  of  attaining  their  ends. 

Ah,  he  had  thought  so  !  There  it  came  now,  the 
god's  hand,  cunning  to  hurt,  thrusting  out  at  him, 
descending  upon  his  head.  But  the  god  went  on 
talking.  His  voice  was  soft  and  soothing.  In  spite 
of  the  menacing  hand,  the  voice  inspired  confidence. 
And  in  spite  of  the  assuring  voice,  the  hand  inspired 
distrust.  White  Fang  was  torn  by  conflicting  feel- 
ings, impulses.  It  seemed  he  would  fly  to  pieces,  so 
terrible  was  the  control  he  was  exerting,  holding  to- 
gether by  an  unwonted  indecision  the  counter-forces 
that  struggled  within  him  for  mastery. 

He  compromised.  He  snarled  and  bristled  and 
flattened  his  ears.     But  he  neither  snapped  nor  sprang 


THE   LOVE-MASTER  253 

away.  The  hand  descended.  Nearer  and  nearer  it 
came.  It  touched  the  ends  of  his  upstanding  hair. 
He  shrank  down  under  it.  It  followed  down  after 
him,  pressing  more  closely  against  him.  Shrinking, 
almost  shivering,  he  still  managed  to  hold  himself  to- 
gether. It  was  a  torment,  this  hand  that  touched 
him  and  violated  his  instinct.  He  could  not  forget 
in  a  day  all  the  evil  that  had  been  wrought  him  at 
the  hands  of  men.  But  it  was  the  will  of  the  god, 
and  he  strove  to  submit. 

The  hand  lifted  and  descended  again  in  a  patting, 
caressing  movement.  This  continued,  but  every  time 
the  hand  lifted,  the  hair  lifted  under  it.  And  every 
time  the  hand  descended,  the  ears  flattened  down  and 
a  cavernous  grow^l  surged  in  his  throat.  White  Fang 
growled  and  growled  with  insistent  warning.  By 
this  means  he  announced  that  he  was  prepared  to  re- 
taliate for  any  hurt  he  might  receive.  There  was  no 
telling  when  the  god's  ulterior  motive  might  be  dis- 
closed. At  any  moment  that  soft,  confidence-inspiring 
voice  might  break  forth  in  a  roar  of  wrath,  that  gen- 
tle and  caressing  hand  transform  itself  into  a  viselike 
grip)  to  hold  him  helpless  and  administer  punishment. 

But  the  god  talked  on  softly,  and  ever  the  hand 
rose  and  fell  with  non-hostile  pats.  White  Fang  ex- 
perienced dual  feelings.  It  was  distasteful  to  his 
instinct.  It  restrained  him,  opposed  the  will  of  him 
toward  personal  liberty.     And  yet  it  was  not  physi- 


254  WHITE   FANG 

cally  painful.  On  the  contrary,  it  was  even  pleasant, 
in  a  physical  way.  The  patting  movement  slowly 
and  carefully  changed  to  a  rubbhig  of  the  ears  about 
their  bases,  and  the  physical  pleasure  even  increased 
a  little.  Yet  he  continued  to  fear,  and  he  stood  on 
guard,  expectant  of  unguessed  evil,  alternately  suffer- 
ing and  enjoying  as  one  feeling  or  the  other  came 
uppermost  and  swayed  him. 

"  Well,  I'll  be  gosh-swoggled !  " 

So  spoke  Matt,  coming  out  of  the  cabin,  his  sleeves 
rolled  up,  a  pan  of  dirty  dish-water  in  his  hands, 
arrested  in  the  act  of  emptying  the  pan  by  the  sight 
of  Weedon  Scott  patting  White  Fang. 

At  the  instant  his  voice  broke  the  silence.  White 
Fang  leaped  back,  snarling  savagely  at  him. 

Matt  regarded  his  employer  with  grieved  dis- 
approval. 

"  If  you  don't  mind  my  expressin'  my  feelin's,  Mr. 
Scott,  I'll  make  free  to  say  you're  seventeen  kinds  of 
a  damn  fool  an'  all  of  'em  different,  and  then  some." 

Weedon  Scott  smiled  with  a  superior  air,  gained 
his  feet,  and  walked  over  to  White  Fang.  He  talked 
soothingly  to  him,  but  not  for  long,  then  slowly  put 
out  his  hand,  rested  it  on  White  Fang's  head,  and 
resumed  the  interrupted  patting.  White  Fang  en- 
dured it,  keeping  his  eyes  fixed  suspiciously,  not  upon 
the  man  that  petted  him,  but  upon  the  man  that 
stood  in  the  doorway. 


THE   LOVE-MASTER  255 

"  You  may  be  a  number  one,  tip-top  minin'  expert, 
all  right  all  right,"  the  dog-musher  delivered  himself 
oracularly,  "  but  you  missed  the  chance  of  your  life 
when  you  was  a  boy  an'  didn't  run  off  an'  join  a 
circus." 

White  Fang  snarled  at  the  sound  of  his  voice,  but 
this  time  did  not  leap  away  from  under  the  hand  that 
was  caressing  his  head  and  the  back  of  his  neck  with 
long,  soothing  strokes. 

It  was  the  beginning  of  the  end  for  White  Fang 
—  the  ending  of  the  old  life  and  the  reign  of  hate. 
A  new  and  incomprehensibly  fairer  life  was  dawning. 
It  required  much  thinking  and  endless  patience  on 
the  part  of  Weedon  Scott  to  accomplish  this.  And 
on  the  part  of  White  Fang  it  required  nothing  less 
than  a  revolution.  He  had  to  ignore  the  urges  and 
promptings  of  instinct  and  reason,  defy  experience, 
give  the  lie  to  life  itself. 

Life,  as  he  had  known  it,  not  only  had  had  no 
place  in  it  for  much  that  he  now  did  ;  but  all  the 
currents  had  gone  counter  to  those  to  which  he  now 
abandoned  himself.  In  short,  when  all  things  were 
considered,  he  had  to  achieve  an  orientation  far 
vaster  than  the  one  he  had  achieved  at  the  time  he 
came  voluntarily  in  from  the  Wild  and  accepted 
Gray  Beaver  as  his  lord.  At  that  time  he  was  a 
mere  puppy,  soft  from  the  making,  without  form, 
ready   for  the   thumb  of  circumstance    to   begin   its 


256  WHITE   FANG 

work  upon  him.  But  now  it  was  different.  The 
thumb  of  circumstance  had  done  its  work  only  too 
well.  By  it  he  had  been  formed  and  hardened  into 
the  Fighting  Wolf,  fierce  and  implacable,  unloving 
and  unlovable.  To  accomplish  the  change  was  like 
a  reflux  of  being,  and  this  when  the  plasticity  of 
youth  was  no  longer  his ;  when  the  fibre  of  him  had 
become  tough  and  knotty  ;  when  the  warp  and  the 
woof  of  him  had  made  of  him  an  adamantine  texture, 
harsh  and  unyielding  ;  when  the  face  of  his  spirit  had 
become  iron  and  all  his  instincts  and  axioms  had 
crystallized  into  set  rules,  cautions,  dislikes,  and 
desires. 

Yet  again,  in  this  new  orientation,  it  was  the 
thumb  of  circumstance  that  pressed  and  prodded  him, 
softening  that  which  had  become  hard  and  remould- 
ing it  into  fairer  form.  Weedon  Scott  was  in  truth 
this  thumb.  He  had  gone  to  the  roots  of  White 
Fang's  nature,  and  with  kindness  touched  to  life 
potencies  that  had  languished  and  well-nigh  perished. 
One  such  potency  was  love.  It  took  the  place  of  like^ 
which  latter  had  been  the  highest  feeling  that  thrilled 
him  in  his  intercourse  with  the  gods. 

But  this  love  did  not  come  in  a  day.  It  began 
with  Wke  and  out  of  it  slowly  developed.  White 
Fang  did  not  run  away,  though  he  was  allowed  to 
remain  loose,  because  he  liked  this  new  god.  This 
was  certainly  better  than  the  life  he  had  lived  in  the 


THE   LOVE-MASTER  251 

cage  of  Beauty  Smith,  and  it  was  necessary  that  he 
should  have  some  god.  The  lordship  of  man  was 
a  need  of  his  nature.  The  seal  of  his  dependence  on 
man  had  been  set  upon  him  in  that  early  day  when 
he  turned  his  back  on  the  Wild  and  crawled  to  Gray 
Beaver's  feet  to  receive  the  expected  beating.  This 
seal  had  been  stamped  upon  him  again,  and  ineradi- 
cably,  on  his  second  return  from  the  Wild,  when  the 
long  famine  was  over  and  there  was  fish  once  more 
in  the  village  of  Gray  Beaver. 

And  so,  because  he  needed  a  god  and  because  he 
preferred  Weedon  Scott  to  Beauty  Smith,  White 
Fang  remained.  In  acknowledgment  of  fealty,  he 
proceeded  to  take  upon  himself  the  guardianship  of 
his  master's  property.  He  prowled  about  the  cabin 
while  the  sled-dogs  slept,  and  the  first  night-visitor  to 
the  cabin  fought  him  off  with  a  club  until  Weedon 
Scott  came  to  the  rescue.  But  Wliite  Fang  soon 
learned  to  differentiate  between  thieves  and  honest 
men,  to  appraise  the  true  value  of  step  and  carriage. 
The  man  who  travelled,  loud-stepping,  the  direct  line 
to  the  cabin  door,  he  let  alone  —  though  he  watched 
him  vigilantly  until  the  door  opened  and  he  received 
the  indorsement  of  the  master.  But  the  man  who  went 
softly,  by  circuitous  ways,  peering  with  caution,  seek- 
ing after  secrecy  —  that  was  the  man  who  received 
no  suspension  of  judgment  from  White  Fang,  and  who 
went  away  abruptly,  hurriedly,  and  without  dignity. 


258  WHITE   FANG 

Weedon  Scott  had  set  himself  the  task  of  redeem- 
ing White  Fang  —  or  rather,  of  redeeming  mankind 
from  the  wrong  it  had  done  White  Fang.  It  was 
a  matter  of  principle  and  conscience.  He  felt  that 
the  ill  done  White  Fang  was  a  debt  incurred  by  man 
and  that  it  must  be  paid.  So  he  went  out  of  his  way 
to  be  especially  kind  to  the  Fighting  Wolf.  Each 
day  he  made  it  a  point  to  caress  and  pet  White  Fang, 
and  to  do  it  at  length. 

At  first  suspicious  and  hostile,  White  Fang  grew  to 
like  this  petting.  But  there  was  one  thing  that  he 
never  outgrew  —  his  growling.  Growl  he  would, 
from  the  moment  the  petting  began  until  it  ended. 
But  it  was  a  growl  with  a  new  note  in  it.  A  stranger 
could  not  hear  this  note,  and  to  such  a  stranger  the 
growling  of  White  Fang  was  an  exhibition  of  pri- 
mordial savagery,  nerve-racking  and  blood-curdling. 
But  White  Fang's  throat  had  become  harsh-hbred 
from  the  making  of  ferocious  sounds  through  the 
many  years  since  his  first  little  rasp  of  anger  in 
the  lair  of  his  cubhood,  and  he  could  not  soften  the 
sounds  of  that  throat  now  to  express  the  gentleness 
he  felt.  Nevertheless,  Weedon  Scott's  ear  and  sym- 
pathy were  fine  enough  to  catch  the  new  note  all 
but  drowned  in  the  fierceness — the  note  that  was 
the  faintest  hint  of  a  croon  of  content  and  that  none 
but  he  could  hear. 

As  the  days  went  by,  the  evolution  of  lihe  into  love 


THE   LOVE-MASTER  259 

was  accelerated.  White  Fang  himself  began  to  grow 
aware  of  it,  though  in  his  consciousness  he  knew  not 
w^hat  love  was.  It  manifested  itself  to  him  as  a  void 
in  his  being  —  a  hungry,  aching,  yearning  void  that 
clamored  to  be  filled.  It  was  a  pain  and  an  unrest ; 
and  it  received  easement  only  by  the  touch  of  the 
new  god's  presence.  At  such  times  love  was  a  joy  to 
him,  a  wild,  keen-thrilling  satisfaction.  But  when 
away  from  his  god,  the  pain  and  the  unrest  returned  ; 
the  void  in  him  sprang  up  and  pressed  against  him 
with  its  emptiness,  and  the  hunger  gnawed  and 
gnawed  unceasingly. 

White  Fang  was  in  the  process  of  finding  himself. 
In  spite  of  the  maturity  of  his  years  and  of  the  savage 
rigidity  of  the  mould  that  had  formed  him,  his  nature 
was  undergoing  an  expansion.  There  was  a  burgeon- 
ing within  him  of  strange  feelings  and  unwonted  im- 
pulses. His  old  code  of  conduct  was  changing.  In 
the  past  he  had  liked  comfort  and  surcease  from  pain, 
disliked  discomfort  and  pain,  and  he  had  adjusted 
his  actions  accordingly.  But  now  it  was  different. 
Because  of  this  new  feeling  within  him,  he  ofttimes 
elected  discomfort  and  pain  for  the  sake  of  his  god. 
Thus,  in  the  early  morning,  instead  of  roaming  and 
foraging,  or  lying  in  a  sheltered  nook,  he  would  wait 
for  hours  on  the  cheerless  cabin-stoop  for  a  sight  of 
the  god's  face.  At  night,  when  the  god  returned 
home.  White  Fang  would  leave  the  warm  sleeping- 


260  WHITE   FANG 

place  he  had  burrowed  in  the  snow  in  order  to  re- 
ceive the  friendly  snap  of  fingers  and  the  word  of 
greeting.  Meat,  even  meat  itself,  he  would  forego  to 
be  with  his  god,  to  receive  a  caress  from  him  or  to 
accompany  him  down  into  the  town. 

LiTce  had  been  replaced  by  love.  And  love  was  the 
plummet  dropped  down  into  the  deeps  of  him  where 
like  had  never  gone.  And  responsive,  out  of  his  deeps 
had  come  the  new  thing  —  love.  That  which  was 
given  unto  him  did  he  return.  This  was  a  god  indeed, 
a  love-god,  a  warm  and  radiant  god,  in  whose  light 
White  Fang's  nature  expanded  as  a  flower  expands 
under  the  sun. 

But  White  Fang  was  not  demonstrative.  He 
was  too  old,  too  firmly  moulded,  to  become  adept 
at  expressing  himself  in  new  ways.  He  was  too 
self-possessed,  too  strongly  poised  in  his  own  isola- 
tion. Too  long  had  he  cultivated  reticence,  aloof- 
ness, and  moroseness.  lie  had  never  barked  in 
his  life,  and  he  could  not  now  learn  to  bark  a  wel- 
come when  his  god  approached.  He  was  never  in 
the  way,  never  extravagant  nor  foolish  in  the  expres- 
sion of  his  love.  He  never  ran  to  meet  his  god.  He 
waited  at  a  distance ;  but  he  always  waited,  was  al- 
ways there.  His  love  partook  of  the  nature  of  wor- 
ship, dumb,  inarticulate,  a  silent  adoration.  Only  by 
the  steady  regard  of  his  eyes  did  he  express  his  love, 
and  by  the  unceasing  following  with  his  eyes  of  his 


THE   LOVE-MASTER  261 

god's  every  movement.  Also,  at  times,  when  his  god 
looked  at  him  and  spoke  to  him,  he  betrayed  an  awk- 
ward self-consciousness,  caused  by  the  struggle  of  his 
love  to  express  itself  and  his  physical  inability  to 
express  it. 

He  learned  to  adjust  himself  in  many  ways  to  his 
new  mode  of  life.  It  was  borne  in  upon  him  that 
he  must  let  his  master's  dogs  alone.  Yet  his  domi- 
nant nature  asserted  itself,  and  he  had  first  to  thrash 
them  into  an  acknowledgment  of  his  superiority  and 
leadership.  This  accomplished,  he  had  little  trouble 
with  them.  They  gave  trail  to  him  when  he  came 
and  went  or  walked  among  them,  and  when  he  as- 
serted his  will  they  obeyed. 

In  the  same  way,  he  came  to  tolerate  Matt  —  as  a 
possession  of  his  master.  His  master  rarely  fed  him. 
Matt  did  that,  it  was  his  business ;  yet  White  Fang 
divined  that  it  was  his  master's  food  he  ate  and  that 
it  was  his  master  w^ho  thus  fed  him  vicariously. 
Matt  it  was  who  tried  to  put  him  into  the  harness 
and  make  him  haul  sled  with  the  other  dogs.  But 
Matt  failed.  It  was  not  until  Weedon  Scott  put  the 
harness  on  White  Fang  and  worked  him,  that  he 
understood.  He  took  it  as  his  master's  will  that 
Matt  should  drive  him  and  work  him  just  as  he  drove 
and  worked  his  master's  other  dogs. 

Different  from  the  Mackenzie  toboggans  were  the 
Klondike  sleds  with  runners  under  them.     And  dif- 


262  WHITE   FANG 

ferent  was  the  method  of  driving  the  dogs.  There 
was  no  fan-formation  of  the  team.  The  dogs  worked 
in  single  file,  one  behind  another,  hauling  on  double 
traces.  And  here,  in  the  Klondike,  the  leader  was 
indeed  the  leader.  The  wisest  as  well  as  strongest 
dog  was  the  leader,  and  the  team  obeyed  him  and 
feared  him.  That  White  Fang  should  quickly  gain 
this  post  was  inevitable.  He  could  not  be  satisfied 
with  less,  as  Matt  learned  after  much  inconvenience 
and  trouble.  White  Fang  picked  out  the  post  for 
himself,  and  Matt  backed  his  judgment  with  strong 
language  after  the  experiment  had  been  tried.  But, 
though  he  worked  in  the  sled  in  the  day.  White  Fang 
did  not  forego  the  guarding  of  his  master's  property 
in  the  night.  Thus  he  was  on  duty  all  the  time,  ever 
vigilant  and  faithful,  the  most  valuable  of  all  the  dogs. 

"  Makin'  free  to  spit  out  what's  in  me,"  Matt  said, 
one  day,  "  I  beg  to  state  that  you  was  a  wise  guy  all 
right  when  you  paid  the  price  you  did  for  that  dog. 
You  clean  swindled  Beauty  Smith  on  top  of  pushin' 
his  face  in  with  your  fist." 

A  recrudescence  of  anger  glinted  in  Weedon  Scott's 
gray  eyes,  and  he  muttered  savagely,  "  The  beast ! " 

In  the  late  spring  a  great  trouble  came  to  White 
Fang.  Without  warning,  the  love-master  disap- 
peared. There  had  been  warning,  but  White  Fang 
was  unversed  in  such  things  and  did  not  understand 
the  packing  of    a  grip.     He  remembered    afterward 


THE   LOVE-MASTER  263 

that  this  packing  had  preceded  the  master's  disap- 
pearance ;  but  at  the  time  he  suspected  nothing. 
That  night  he  waited  for  the  master  to  return.  At 
midnight  the  chill  wind  that  blew  drove  him  to 
shelter  at  the  rear  of  the  cabin.  There  he  drowsed, 
only  half  asleep,  his  ears  keyed  for  the  first  sound  of 
the  familiar  step.  But,  at  two  in  the  morning,  his 
anxiety  drove  him  out  to  the  cold  front  stoop,  where 
he  crouched  and  waited. 

But  no  master  came.  In  the  morning  the  door 
opened  and  Matt  stepped  outside.  White  Fang 
gazed  at  him  wistfully.  There  was  no  common 
speech  by  which  he  might  learn  what  he  wanted  to 
know.  The  days  came  and  went,  but  never  the 
master.  White  Fang,  who  had  never  known  sickness 
in  his  life,  became  sick.  He  became  very  sick,  so 
sick  that  Matt  was  finally  compelled  to  bring  him 
inside  the  cabin.  Also,  in  writing  to  his  employer. 
Matt  devoted  a  postscript  to  White  Fang. 

Weedon  Scott  reading  the  letter  down  in  Circle 
City,  came  upon  the  following : 

"  That  dam  wolf  wont  work.  Wont  eat.  Aint 
got  no  spunk  left.  All  the  dogs  is  licking  him. 
W^ants  to  know  what  has  become  of  you,  and  I  dont 
know  how  to  tell  him.     Mebbe  he   is  going  to  die." 

It  was  as  Matt  had  said.  White  Fang  had  ceased 
eating,  lost  heart,  and  allowed  every  dog  of  the  team 
to  thrash  him.      In  the  cabin  he  lay  on  the  floor  near 


264  WHITE   FANG 

the  stove,  without  interest  in  food,  in  Matt,  nor  in 
life.  Matt  might  talk  gently  to  him  or  swear  at  him, 
it  was  all  the  same ;  he  never  did  more  than  turn  his 
dull  eyes  upon  the  man,  then  drop  his  head  back  to 
its  customary  position  on  his  fore-paws. 

And  then,  one  night.  Matt,  reading  to  himself  with 
moving  lips  and  mumbled  sounds,  was  startled  by  a 
low  whine  from  White  Fang.  He  had  got  upon  his 
feet,  his  ears  cocked  toward  the  door,  and  he  was 
listening  intently.  A  moment  later.  Matt  heard  a 
footstep.  The  door  opened,  and  Weedon  Scott 
stepped  in.  The  two  men  shook  hands.  Then  Scott 
looked  around  the  room. 

"  Where's  the  wolf  ?  "  he  asked. 

Then  he  discovered  him,  standing  where  he  had  been 
lying,  near  to  the  stove.  He  had  not  rushed  forward 
after  the  manner  of  other  dogs.  He  stood,  watching 
and  waiting. 

"  Holy  smoke  !  "  Matt  exclaimed.  "  Look  at  'm 
wag  his  tail  !  " 

Weedon  Scott  strode  half  across  the  room  toward 
him,  at  the  same  time  calling  him.  White  Fang 
came  to  him,  not  with  a  great  bound,  yet  quickl}^ 
He  was  awkward  from  self-consciousness,  but  as  he 
drew"  near,  his  eyes  took  on  a  strange  expression. 
Something,  an  incommunicable  vastness  of  feeling, 
rose  up  into  his  eyes  as  a  light  and  shone  forth. 

"  He  never  looked  at  me  that  way  all  the  time  you 
was  gone,"  Matt  commented. 


THE  LOVE-MASTER  265 

Weedon  Scott  did  not  hear.  He  was  squatting 
down  on  his  heels,  face  to  face  with  White  Fang  and 
petting  him  —  rubbing  at  the  roots  of  the  ears,  mak- 
ing long,  caressing  strokes  down  the  neck  to  the 
shoulders,  tapping  the  spine  gently  with  the  balls  of 
his  fingers.  And  White  Fang  was  growling  respon- 
sively,  the  crooning  note  of  the  growl  more  pro- 
nounced than  ever. 

But  that  was  not  all.  What  of  his  joy,  the  great 
love  in  him,  ever  surging  and  struggling  to  express 
itself,  succeeded  in  finding  a  new  mode  of  expression. 
He  suddenly  thrust  his  head  forward  and  nudged  his 
way  in  between  the  master's  arm  and  body.  And 
here,  confined,  hidden  from  view  all  except  his  ears,  no 
longer  growling,  he  continued  to  nudge  and  snuggle. 

The  two  men  looked  at  each  other.  Scott's  eyes 
were  shining. 

"  Gosh  !  "  said  Matt  in  an  awe-stricken  voice. 

A  moment  later,  when  he  had  recovered  himself, 
he  said,  "  I  always  insisted  that  wolf  was  a  dog. 
Look  at  'm  !  " 

With  the  return  of  the  love-master.  White  Fang's 
recovery  w^as  rapid.  Two  nights  and  a  day  he  spent 
in  the  cabin.  Then  he  sallied  forth.  The  sled-dogs 
had  forgotten  his  prowess.  The}^  remembered  only 
the  latest,  which  was  his  weakness  and  sickness.  At 
the  sight  of  him  as  he  came  out  of  the  cabin,  they 
sprang  upon  him. 


266  WHITE   FANG 

"  Talk  about  your  rough-houses,"  Matt  murmured 
gleefully,  standing  in  the  doorway  and  looking  on. 
"  Give  'm  hell,  you  wolf  !  Give  'm  hell !  —  and  then 
some ! " 

White  Fang  did  not  need  the  encouragement.  The 
return  of  the  love-master  was  enough.  Life  was 
flowing  through  him  again,  splendid  and  indomitable. 
He  fought  from  sheer  joy,  finding  in  it  an  expression 
of  much  that  he  felt  and  that  otherwise  was  without 
speech.  There  could  be  but  one  ending.  The  team 
dispersed  in  ignominious  defeat,  and  it  was  not  until 
after  dark  that  the  dogs  came  sneaking  back,  one  by 
one,  by  meekness  and  humility  signifying  their  fealty 
to  White  Fang. 

Having  learned  to  snuggle,  White  Fang  was  guilty 
of  it  often.  It  was  the  final  word.  He  could  not 
go  beyond  it.  The  one  thing  of  which  he  had  always 
been  particularly  jealous,  was  his  head.  He  had 
always  disliked  to  have  it  touched.  It  was  the  Wild 
in  him,  the  fear  of  hurt  and  of  the  trap,  that  had 
given  rise  to  the  panicky  impulses  to  avoid  contacts. 
It  was  the  mandate  of  his  instinct  that  that  head 
must  be  free.  And  now,  with  the  love-master,  his 
snuggling  was  the  deliberate  act  of  putting  himself 
into  a  position  of  hopeless  helplessness.  It  was  an 
expression  of  perfect  confidence,  of  absolute  self- 
surrender,  as  though  he  said  :  <'  I  put  m^^self  into  thy 
hands.     Work  thou  thy  will  with  me." 


THE  LOVE-MASTER  267 

One  night,  not  long  after  the  return,  Scott  and 
Matt  sat  at  a  game  of  cribbage  preliminary  to  going 
to  bed.  "  Fifteen-two,  fifteen-four  an'  a  pair  makes 
six,"  Matt  was  pegging  up,  when  there  was  an  out'.ry 
and  sound  of  snarling  without.  They  looked  at  each 
other  as  they  started  to  rise  to  their  feet. 

"  The  wolfs  nailed  somebody,"  Matt  said. 

A  wild  scream  of  fear  and  anguish  hastened  them. 

"  Bring  a  light ! "  Scott  shouted,  as  he  sprang  out- 
side. 

Matt  followed  with  the  lamp,  and  by  its  light  they 
saw  a  man  lying  on  his  back  in  the  snow.  His  arms 
were  folded,  one  above  the  other,  across  his  face  and 
throat.  Thus  he  was  trying  to  shield  himself  from 
White  Fang's  teeth.  And  there  w^as  need  for  it. 
White  Fang  was  in  a  rage,  wickedly  making  his 
attack  on  the  most  vulnerable  spot.  From  shoulder 
to  wrist  of  the  crossed  arms,  the  coat-sleeve,  blue 
flannel  shirt  and  undershirt  were  ripped  in  rags, 
while  the  arms  themselves  were  terribly  slashed  and 
streaming  blood. 

All  this  the  two  men  saw  in  the  first  instant.  The 
next  instant  Weedon  Scott  had  White  Fang  by  the 
throat  and  was  dragging  him  clear.  White  Fang 
struggled  and  snarled,  but  made  no  attempt  to  bite, 
while  he  quickly  quieted  down  at  a  sharp  word  from 
the  master. 

Matt  helped  the  man  to  his  feet.     As  he  arose  he 


268  WHITE   FANG 

lowered  his  crossed  arms,  exposing  the  bestial  face  of 
Beauty  Smith.  The  dog-musher  let  go  of  him  pre- 
cipitately, with  action  similar  to  that  of  a  man  who 
ha^  picked  up  live  fire.  Beauty  Smith  blinked  in 
the  lamplight  and  looked  about  him.  He  caught 
sight  of  White  Fang  and  terror  rushed  into  his  face. 

At  the  same  moment  Matt  noticed  two  objects 
lying  in  the  snow.  He  held  the  lamp  close  to  them, 
indicating  them  with  his  toe  for  his  employer's 
benefit  —  a  steel  dog-chain  and  a  stout  club. 

Weedon  Scott  saw  and  nodded.  Not  a  word  was 
spoken.  The  dog-musher  laid  his  hand  on  Beauty 
Smith's  shoulder  and  faced  him  to  the  right-about. 
No  word  needed  to  be  spoken.  Beauty  Smith 
started. 

In  the  meantime  the  love-master  was  patting  White 
Fang  and  talking  to  him. 

"  Tried  to  steal  you,  eh  ?  And  you  wouldn't  have 
it !     Well,  well,  he  made  a  mistake,  didn't  he  ?  " 

"  Must  'a'  thought  he  had  hold  of  seventeen  devils," 
the  dog-musher  sniggered. 

White  Fang,  still  wrought  up  and  bristling,  growled 
and  growled,  the  hair  slowly  lying  down,  the  croon- 
ing note  remote  and  dim,  but  growing  in  his  throat. 


Chapter  I 
Chapter  II 
Chapter  III 
Chapter  IV 
Chapter     V 


PART   FIVE 

THE   TAME 


The  Long  Trail 
The  Southland 
The  God's  Domain 
The  Call  of  Kind 
The  Sleeping  Wolf 


■^!f 


N, 


V 

i. 


m^ 


CHAPTER    I 


THE    LONG    TRAIL 


It  was  in  the  air.  White  Fang  sensed  the  coming 
calamity,  even  before  there  was  tangible  evidence  of 
it.  In  vague  ways  it  was  borne  in  upon  him  that  a 
change  was  impending.  He  knew  not  how  nor  why, 
yet  he  got  his  feel  of  the  oncoming  event  from  the 
gods  themselves.  In  ways  subtler  than  they  knew, 
they  betrayed  their  intentions  to  the  wolf-dog  that 
haunted  the  cabin-stoop,  and  that,  though  he  never 
came  inside  the  cabin,  knew  w^hat  went  on  inside 
their  brains. 

"  Listen  to  that,  will  you  ! "  the  dog-musher  ex- 
claimed at  supper  one  night. 

Weedon  Scott  listened.  Through  the  door  came  a 
low,  anxious  whine,  like  a  sobbing  under  the  breath 
that  has  just  grown  audible.  Then  came  the  long  sniff, 
as  White  Fang  reassured  himself  that  his  god  was 
still  inside  and  had  not  yet  taken  himself  off  in 
mysterious  and  solitary  flight. 

''  I  do  believe  that  wolf's  on  to  you,"  the  dog-musher 
said. 

271 


272  WHITE   FANG 

Weedon  Scott  looked  across  at  his  companion  with 
eyes  that  almost  pleaded,  though  this  was  given  the 
lie  by  his  words. 

"  What  the  devil  can  I  do  with  a  wolf  in  Califor- 
nia ?  "  he  demanded. 

"  That's  what  I  say,"  Matt  answered.  "  What  the 
devil  can  you  do  with  a  wolf  in  California  ?  " 

But  this  did  not  satisfy  Weedon  Scott.  The  other 
seemed  to  be  judging  him  in  a  non-committal  sort  of 
way. 

''  White-man's  dogs  would  have  no  show  against 
him,"  Scott  went  on.  "  He'd  kill  them  on  sight.  If 
he  didn't  bankrupt  me  with  damage  suits,  the  authori- 
ties would  take  him  away  from  me  and  electrocute 
him." 

"  He's  a  downright  murderer,  I  know,"  was  the 
dog-musher's  comment. 

Weedon  Scott  looked  at  him  suspiciously. 

"  It  would  never  do,"  he  said  decisively. 

"It  w^ould  never  do,"  Matt  concurred.  "Why, 
you'd  have  to  hire  a  man  'specially  to  take  care 
of  'm." 

The  other's  suspicion  was  allayed.  He  nodded 
cheerfully.  In  the  silence  that  followed,  the  low, 
half-sobbing  whine  was  heard  at  the  door  and  then 
the  long,  questing  sniff. 

"  There's  no  denyin'  he  thinks  a  hell  of  a  lot  of 
you,"  Matt  said. 


THE   LONG   TRAIL  273 

The  other  glared  at  him  in  sudden  wrath.  "  Damn 
it  all,  man  !     I  know  my  own  mind  and  what's  best !  " 

"  I'm  agreein'  with  you,  only  .   .   ." 

"  Only  what  ?  "  Scott  snapped  out. 

"  Only  .  .  ."  the  dog-musher  began  softly,  then 
changed  his  mind  and  betrayed  a  rising  anger  of  his 
own.  "  Well,  you  needn't  get  so  all-fired  het  up  about 
it.  Judgin'  by  your  actions  one  'd  think  you  didn't 
know  3^our  own  mind." 

Weedon  Scott  debated  with  himself  for  a  while, 
and  then  said  more  gently :  "  You  are  right.  Matt.  I 
don't  know  my  own  mind,  and  that's  what's  the 
trouble." 

"  Why,  it  w^ould  be  rank  ridiculousness  for  me  to 
take  that  dog  along,"  he  broke  out  after  another  pause. 

"  I'm  agreein'  with  you,"  was  Matt's  answer,  and 
again  his  employer  was  not  quite  satisfied  with  him. 

"  But  how  in  the  name  of  the  great  Sardanapalus 
he  knows  you're  goin'  is  what  gets  me,"  the  dog- 
musher  continued  innocently. 

"  It's  beyond  me.  Matt,"  Scott  answered,  with  a 
mournful  shake  of  the  head. 

Then  came  the  day  when,  through  the  open  cabin 
door,  White  Fang  saw  the  fatal  grip  on  the  floor  and 
the  love-master  packing  things  into  it.  Also,  there 
were  comings  and  goings,  and  the  erstwhile  placid  at- 
mosphere of  the  cabin  was  vexed  with  strange  pertur- 
bations and  unrest.     Here  was  indubitable  evidence. 


274  WHITE   FANG 

White  Fang  had  already  sensed  it.  He  now  rea- 
soned it.  His  god  was  preparing  for  another  flight. 
And  since  he  had  not  taken  him  with  him  before,  so, 
now,  he  could  look  to  be  left  behind. 

That  night  he  lifted  the  long  wolf-howl.  As  he 
had  howled,  in  his  puppy  days,  w^hen  he  fled  back 
from  the  Wild  to  the  village  to  find  it  vanished  and 
naught  but  a  rubbish-heap  to  mark  the  site  of  Gray 
Beaver's  tepee,  so  now  he  pointed  his  muzzle  to  the 
cold  stars  and  told  to  them  his  woe. 

Inside  the  cabin  the  two  men  had  just  gone  to  bed. 

"  He's  gone  ofl  his  food  again,"  Matt  remarked  from 
his  bunk. 

There  was  a  grunt  from  Weedon  Scott's  bunk,  and 
a  stir  of  blankets. 

"  From  the  way  he  cut  up  the  other  time  you  went 
away,  I  wouldn't  wonder  this  time  but  what  he 
died." 

The  blankets  in  the  other  bunk  stirred  irritably. 

"  Oh,  shut  up  ! "  Scott  cried  out  through  the  dark- 
ness.    "  You  nag  worse  than  a  woman." 

"  I'm  agreein'  with  you,"  the  dog-musher  answered, 
and  Weedon  Scott  was  not  quite  sure  whether  or  not 
the  other  had  snickered. 

The  next  day  White  Fang's  anxiety  and  restless- 
ness were  even  more  pronounced.  He  dogged  his 
master's  heels  whenever  he  left  the  cabin,  and 
haunted   the  front   stoop   when   he   remained  inside. 


I 


THE   LONG  TRAIL  275 

Through  the  open  door  he  could  catch  glimpses  of  the 
luggage  on  the  floor.  The  grip  had  been  joined  by 
two  large  canvas  bags  and  a  box.  Matt  was  rolling 
the  master's  blankets  and  fur  robe  inside  a  small 
tarpaulin.  White  Fang  whined  as  he  watched  the 
operation. 

Later  on,  two  Indians  arrived.  He  watched  them 
closely  as  they  shouldered  the  luggage  and  were  led 
off  down  the  hill  by  Matt,  who  carried  the  bedding 
and  the  grip.  But  White  Fang  did  not  follow  them. 
The  master  was  still  in  the  cabin.  After  a  time, 
Matt  returned.  The  master  came  to  the  door  and 
called  White  Fang  inside. 

"  You  poor  devil,"  he  said  gently,  rubbing  White 
Fang's  ears  and  tapping  his  spine.  "  I'm  hitting  the 
long  trail,  old  man,  where  you  cannot  follow.  Now 
give  me  a  growl  —  the  last,  good,  good-by  growl." 

But  White  Fang  refused  to  growl.  Instead,  and 
after  a  wistful,  searching  look,  he  snuggled  in,  burrow- 
ing his  head  out  of  sight  between  the  master's  arm 
and  body. 

"  There  she  blow^s  ! "  Matt  cried.  From  the  Yukon 
arose  the  hoarse  bellowing  of  a  river  steamboat. 
"  You've  got  to  cut  it  short.  Be  sure  and  lock  the 
front  door.     I'll  go  out  the  back.     Get  a  move  on  ! " 

The  two  doors  slammed  at  the  same  moment, 
and  Weedon  Scott  waited  for  Matt  to  come  around 
to  the  front.      From  inside  the  door    came    a    low 


276  WHITE   FANG 

whining  and  sobbing.  Then  there  were  long,  deep- 
drawn  sniffs. 

"  You  must  take  good  care  of  him,  Matt,"  Scott 
said,  as  they  started  down  the  hill.  "  Write  and  let 
me  know  how  he  gets  along." 

"  Sure,"  the  dog-musher  answered.  "  But  listen  to 
that,  will  you  !  " 

Both  men  stopped.  White  Fang  was  howling  as 
dogs  howl  when  their  masters  lie  dead.  He  was 
voicing  an  utter  woe,  his  cry  bursting  upward  in 
great,  heart-breaking  rushes,  dying  down  into  quaver- 
ing misery,  and  bursting  upward  again  with  rush 
upon  rush  of  grief. 

The  Aurora  was  the  first  steamboat  of  the  year 
for  the  Outside,  and  her  decks  were  jammed  with 
prosperous  adventurers  and  broken  gold  seekers,  all 
equally  as  mad  to  get  to  the  Outside  as  they  had 
been  originally  to  get  to  the  Inside.  Near  the  gang- 
plank, Scott  was  shaking  hands  with  Matt,  who  was 
preparing  to  go  ashore.  But  Matt's  hand  w^ent  limp 
in  the  other's  grasp  as  his  gaze  shot  past  and  remained 
fixed  on  something  behind  him.  Scott  turned  to  see. 
Sitting  on  the  deck  several  feet  away  and  watching 
wistfully  was  White  Fang. 

The  dog-musher  swore  softly,  in  awe-stricken 
accents.      Scott  could  only  look  in  wonder. 

"  Did  you  lock  the  front  door  ?  "  Matt  demanded. 

Tlie  other  nodded,  and  asked,  "  How  about  the 
back  ?  " 


White  Fang  was  howling  as  dogs  howl  when  their  masters  lie  dead." 


THE    LONG   TRAIL  277 

"  You  just  bet  I  did,"  was  the  fervent  reply. 

White  Fang  flattened  his  ears  ingratiatingly,  but 
remained  where  he  was,  making  no  attempt  to 
approach. 

"  I'll  have  to  take  'm  ashore  with  me." 

Matt  made  a  couple  of  steps  toward  White  Fang, 
but  the  latter  slid  away  from  him.  The  dog-musher 
made  a  rush  of  it,  and  White  Fang  dodged  between 
the  legs  of  a  group  of  men.  Ducking,  turning,  doub- 
ling, he  slid  about  the  deck,  eluding  the  otlier's  efforts 
to  capture  him. 

But  when  the  love-master  spoke,  White  Fang  came 
to  him  with  prompt  obedience. 

"  Won't  come  to  the  hand  that's  fed  'm  all  these 
months,"  the  dog-musher  muttered  resentfully.  "  And 
you  —  you  ain't  never  fed  'm  after  them  first  days  of 
gettin'  acquainted.  I'm  blamed  if  I  can  see  how  he 
w^orks  it  out  that  you're  the  boss." 

Scott,  who  had  been  patting  White  Fang,  suddenly 
bent  closer  and  pointed  out  fresh-made  cuts  on  his 
muzzle,  and  a  gash  between  the  eyes. 

Matt  bent  over  and  passed  his  hand  along  White 
Fang's  belly. 

"  We  plumb  forgot  the  w^indow.  He's  all  cut  an' 
gouged  underneath.  Must  'a'  butted  clean  through 
it,  b'gosh  !  " 

But  Weedon  Scott  was  not  listening.  He  was 
thinking    rapidly.      The    Aurora's    whistle    hooted    a 


278  WHITE   FANG 

final  announcement  of  departure.  Men  were  scurry- 
ing down  the  gang-plank  to  the  shore.  Matt  loosened 
the  bandana  from  his  own  neck  and  started  to  put  it 
around  White  Fang's.  Scott  grasped  the  dog-musher's 
hand. 

"  Good-by,  Matt,  old  man.  About  the  wolf  —  you 
needn't  write.     You  see,  I've  .  .  .  ! " 

''  What !  "  the  dog-musher  exploded.  "  You  don't 
mean  to  say  .  .  .  ?  " 

"  The  very  thing  I  mean.  Here's  your  bandana. 
Pll  write  to  you  about  him." 

Matt  paused  halfway  down  the  gang-plank. 

"  He'll  never  stand  the  climate  !  "  he  shouted  back. 
"  Unless  you  clip  'm  in  warm  weather !  " 

The  gang-plank  was  hauled  in,  and  the  Aurora 
swung  out  from  the  bank.  Weedon  Scott  waved  a 
last  good-by.  Then  he  turned  and  bent  over  White 
Fang,  standing  by  his  side. 

"Now  growl,  damn  you,  growl,"  he  said,  as  he 
patted  the  responsive  head  and  rubbed  the  flattening 
ears. 


CHAPTER    II 


THE    SOUTHLAND 


White  Fang  landed  from  the  steamer  in  San  Fran- 
cisco. He  was  appalled.  Deep  in  him,  below  any 
reasoning  process  or  act  of  consciousness,  he  had  asso- 
ciated power  with  godhead.  And  never  had  the 
white  men  seemed  such  marvellous  gods  as  now,  when 
he  trod  the  slimy  pavement  of  San  Francisco.  The 
log  cabins  he  had  known  were  replaced  by  towering 
buildings.  The  streets  were  crowded  with  perils  — 
wagons,  carts,  automobiles ;  great,  straining  horses 
pulling  huge  trucks ;  and  monstrous  cable  and  electric 
cars  hooting  and  clanging  through  the  midst,  screech- 
ing their  insistent  menace  after  the  manner  of  the 
lynxes  he  had  known  in  the  northern  woods. 

All  this  was  the  manifestation  of  power.  Through 
it  all,  behind  it  all,  v/as  man,  governing  and  control- 
ling, expressing  himself,  as  of  old,  by  his  mastery 
over  matter.  It  was  colossal,  stunning.  White  Fang 
was  awed.  Fear  sat  upon  him.  As  in  his  cubhood 
he  had  been  made  to  feel  his  smallness  and  puniness- 
on   the   day  he   first  came  in  from  the  Wild  to  the 

279 


280  WHITE   FANG 

village  of  Gray  Beaver,  so  now,  in  his  f ull-grov^n  stature 
and  pride  of  strength,  he  was  made  to  feel  small  and 
puny.  And  there  were  so  many  gods  !  He  was  made 
dizzy  by  the  swarming  of  them.  The  thunder  of  the 
streets  smote  upon  his  ears.  He  was  bewildered  by 
the  tremendous  and  endless  rush  and  movement  of 
things.  As  never  before,  he  felt  his  dependence  on 
the  love-master,  close  at  whose  heels  he  followed,  no 
matter  what  happened  never  losing  sight  of  him. 

But  White  Fang  was  to  have  no  more  than  a  night- 
mare vision  of  the  city  —  an  experience  that  was  like 
a  bad  dream,  unreal  and  terrible,  tliat  haunted  him 
for  long  after  in  his  dreams.  He  was  put  into  a 
baggage-car  by  the  master,  chained  in  a  corner  in  the 
midst  of  heaped  trunks  and  valises.  Here  a  squat 
and  brawny  god  held  sway,  with  much  noise,  hurling 
trunks  and  boxes  about,  dragging  them  in  through  the 
door  and  tossing  them  into  the  piles,  or  flinging  them 
out  of  the  door,  smashing  and  crashing,  to  other  gods 
who  awaited  them. 

And  here,  in  this  inferno  of  luggage,  was  White 
Fang  deserted  by  the  master.  Or  at  least  White 
Fang  thought  he  was  deserted,  until  he  smelled  out 
the  master's  canvas  clothes-bags  alongside  of  him  and 
proceeded  to  mount  guard  over  them. 

"'Bout  time  you  come,"  growled  the  god  of  the 
car,  an  hour  later,  when  Weedon  Scott  appeared  at 
the  door.  "  That  dog  of  yourn  won't  let  me  lay  a 
finger  on  your  stuif." 


THE   SOUTHLAND  281 

White  Fang  emerged  from  the  car.  He  was 
astonished.  The  nightmare  city  was  gone.  The  car 
had  been  to  him  no  more  than  a  room  in  a  house,  and 
when  he  had  entered  it  the  city  had  been  all  around 
him.  In  the  interval  the  city  had  disappeared.  The 
roar  of  it  no  longer  dinned  upon  his  ears.  Before 
him  was  smiling  country,  streaming  with  sunshine, 
lazy  with  quietude.  But  he  had  little  time  to  marvel 
at  the  transformation.  He  accepted  it  as  he  accepted 
all  the  unaccountable  doings  and  manifestations  of 
the  gods.     It  was  their  way. 

There  was  a  carriage  waiting.  A  man  and  a 
woman  approached  the  master.  The  woman's  arms 
went  out  and  clutched  the  master  around  the  neck 
—  a  hostile  act!  The  next  moment  Weedon  Scott 
had  torn  loose  from  the  embrace  and  closed  with 
White  Fang,  who  had  become  a  snarling,  raging 
demon. 

''  It's  all  right,  mother,"  Scott  was  saying  as  he 
kept  tight  hold  of  White  Fang  and  placated  him. 
"  He  thought  you  were  going  to  injure  me,  and  he 
wouldn't  stand  for  it.  It's  all  right.  It's  all  right. 
He'll  learn  soon  enough." 

"  And  in  the  meantime  I  may  be  permitted  to  love 
my  son  when  his  dog  is  not  around,"  she  laughed, 
though  she  was  pale  and  weak  from  the  fright. 

She  looked  at  White  Fang,  who  snarled  and  bristled 
and  glared  malevolently. 


282  WHITE   FANG 

"  He'll  have  to  learn,  and  he  shall,  without  post- 
ponement," Scott  said. 

He  spoke  softly  to  White  Fang  until  he  had  quieted 
him,  then  his  voice  became  firm. 

"  Down,  sir  !     Down  with  you  !  " 

This  had  been  one  of  the  things  taught  him  by  the 
master,  and  White  Fang  obeyed,  though  he  lay  down 
reluctantly  and  sullenly. 

"  Now,  mother." 

Scott  opened  his  arms  to  her,  but  kept  his  eyes  on 
White  Fang. 

"  Down  !  "  he  warned.     "  Down  !  " 

White  Fang,  bristling  silently,  half-crouching  as  he 
rose,  sank  back  and  watched  the  hostile  act  repeated. 
But  no  harm  came  of  it,  nor  of  the  embrace  from  the 
strange  man-god  that  followed.  Then  the  clothes-bags 
were  taken  into  the  carriage,  the  strange  gods  and 
the  love-master  followed,  and  White  Fang  pursued, 
now  running  vigilantly  behind,  now  bristling  up  to 
the  running  horses  and  warning  them  that  he  was 
there  to  see  that  no  harm  befell  the  god  they  dragged 
so  swiftly  across  the  earth. 

At  the  end  of  fifteen  minutes,  the  carriage  swung 
in  through  a  stone  gateway  and  on  between  a  double 
row  of  arched  and  interlacing  walnut  trees.  On 
either  side  stretched  lawns,  their  broad  sweep  broken, 
here  and  there,  by  great,  sturdy-limbed  oaks.  In  the 
near  distance,  in  contrast  with  the  young  green  of  the 


THE   SOUTHLAND  283 

tended  grass,  sunburnt  hay-fields  showed  tan  and 
gold  ;  while  beyond  were  the  taw^ny  hills  and  upland 
pastures.  From  the  head  of  the  lawn,  on  the  first 
soft  sw^ell  from  the  valley -level,  looked  down  the  deep- 
porched,  many-windowed  house. 

Little  opportunity  was  given  White  Fang  to  see 
all  this.  Hardly  had  the  carriage  entered  the  grounds, 
when  he  was  set  upon  by  a  sheep-dog,  bright-eyed, 
sharp-muzzled,  righteously  indignant  and  angry.  It 
was  between  him  and  the  master,  cutting  him  off. 
White  Fang  snarled  no  warning,  but  his  hair  bristled 
as  he  made  his  silent  and  deadly  rush.  This  rush 
was  never  completed.  He  halted  wdth  awkward 
abruptness,  with  stiff  fore-legs  bracing  himself  against 
his  momentum,  almost  sitting  dowm  on  his  haunches, 
so  desirous  was  he  of  avoiding  contact  with  the  dog 
he  was  in  the  act  of  attacking.  It  was  a  female,  and 
the  law  of  his  kind  thrust  a  barrier  between.  For 
him  to  attack  her  would  require  nothing  less  than  a 
violation  of  his  instinct. 

But  with  the  sheep-dog  it  was  otherwise.  Being  a 
female,  she  possessed  no  such  instinct.  On  the  other 
hand,  being  a  sheep-dog,  her  instinctive  fear  of  the 
Wild,  and  especially  of  the  wolf,  was  unusually  keen. 
White  Fang  w^as  to  her  a  wolf,  the  hereditary 
marauder  who  had  preyed  upon  her  flocks  from  the 
time  sheep  were  first  herded  and  guarded  by  some 
dim  ancestor  of  hers.     And  so,  as  he  abandoned  his 


284  WHITE   FANG 

rush  at  her  and  braced  himself  to  avoid  the  contact,  she 
sprang  upon  him.  He  snarled  involuntarily  as  he  felt 
her  teeth  in  his  shoulder,  but  beyond  this  made  no 
offer  to  hurt  her.  He  backed  away,  stiff-legged  with 
self-consciousness,  and  tried  to  go  around  her.  He 
dodged  this  way  and  that,  and  curved  and  turned,  but 
to  no  purpose.  She  remained  alw^ays  between  him 
and  the  way  he  w^anted  to  go. 

"  Here,  Collie ! "  called  the  strange  man  in  the 
carriage. 

Weedon  Scott  laughed. 

"  Never  mind,  father.  It  is  good  discipline.  White 
Fang  will  have  to  learn  many  things,  and  it's  just 
as  well  that  he  begins  now.  He'll  adjust  himself  all 
right." 

The  carriage  drove  on,  and  still  Collie  blocked 
White  Fang's  way.  He  tried  to  outrun  her  by  leav- 
ing the  drive  and  circling  across  the  lawn ;  but  she 
ran  on  the  inner  and  smaller  circle,  and  was  always 
there,  facing  him  w^ith  her  two  rows  of  gleaming 
teeth.  Back  he  circled,  across  the  drive  to  the  other 
lawn,  and  again  she  headed  him  off. 

The  carriage  was  bearing  the  master  away.  White 
Fang  caught  glimpses  of  it  disappearing  amongst  the 
trees.  The  situation  w^as  desperate.  He  essayed 
another  circle.  She  followed,  running  swiftly.  And 
then,  suddenly,  he  turned  upon  her.  It  was  his  old 
fighting  trick.     Shoulder  to  shoulder,  he  struck  her 


THE   SOUTHLAND  285 

squarel3^  Not  only  was  she  overthrown.  So  fast 
had  she  been  runnhig  that  she  rolled  along,  now  on 
her  back,  now  on  her  side,  as  she  struggled  to  stop, 
clawing  gravel  with  her  feet  and  crying  shrilly  her 
hurt  pride  and  indignation. 

White  Fang  did  not  wait.  The  way  was  clear, 
and  that  was  all  he  had  wanted.  She  took  after 
him,  never  ceasing  her  outcry.  It  wa-s  the  straight- 
away now,  and  when  it  came  to  real  running.  White 
Fang  could  teach  her  things.  She  ran  frantically, 
hysterically,  straining  to  the  utmost,  advertising  the 
effort  she  was  making  with  every  leap;  and  all  the  time 
White  Fang  slid  smoothly  away  from  her,  silently, 
without  effort,  gliding  like  a  ghost  over  the  ground. 

As  he  rounded  the  house  to  the  porte-coohere,  he 
came  upon  the  carriage.  It  had  stopped,  and  the 
master  was  alighting.  At  this  moment,  still  running 
at  top  speed,  W^hite  Fang  became  suddenly  aware  of 
an  attack  from  the  side.  It  was  a  deer-hound  rush- 
ing upon  him.  White  Fang  tried  to  face  it.  But  he 
v\'as  going  too  fast,  and  the  hound  was  too  close.  It 
struck  him  on  the  side  ;  and  such  was  his  forward 
momentum  and  the  unexpectedness  of  it.  White  Fang 
was  hurled  to  the  ground  and  rolled  clear  over.  He 
came  out  of  the  tangle  a  spectacle  of  malignancy, 
ears  flattened  back,  lips  writhing,  nose  wrinkling,  his 
teeth  clipping  together  as  the  fangs  barely  missed  the 
hound's  soft  throat. 


286  WHITE   FANG  j| 

The  master  was  running  up,  but  was  too  far  away ; 
and  it  was  Collie  that  saved  the  hound's  life.  Before 
White  Fang  could  spring  in  and  deliver  the  fatal 
stroke,  and  just  as  he  w^as  in  the  act  of  springing  in, 
Collie  arrived.  She  had  been  out-manoeuvred  and 
out-run,  to  say  nothing  of  her  having  been  unceremo- 
niously tumbled  in  the  gravel,  and  her  arrival  was 
like  that  of  a  tornado  - —  made  up  of  offended  dignity, 
justifiable  wrath,  and  instinctive  hatred  for  this  ma- 
rauder from  the  Wild.  She  struck  White  Fang  at 
right  angles  in  the  midst  of  his  spring,  and  again 
he  was  knocked  off  his  feet  and  rolled  over. 

The  next  moment  the  master  arrived,  and  with 
one  hand  held  White  Fang,  while  the  father  called 
off  the  dogs. 

''  I  say,  this  is  a  pretty  warm  reception  for  a  poor 
lone  wolf  from  the  Arctic,"  the  master  said,  while 
White  Fang  calmed  down  under  his  caressing  hand. 
« In  all  his  life  he's  only  been  known  once  to  go  off 
his  feet,  and  here  he's  been  rolled  twice  in  thirty 
seconds." 

The  carriage  had  driven  away,  and  other  strange 
gods  had  appeared  from  out  the  house.  Some  of 
these  stood  respectfully  at  a  distance ;  but  two  of 
them,  women,  perpetrated  the  hostile  act  of  clutch- 
ing the  master  around  the  neck.  White  Fang,  how- 
ever, was  beginning  to  tolerate  this  act.  No  harm 
seemed  to  come  of  it,  while  the  noises  the  gods  made 


THE   SOUTHLAND  287 

were  certainly  not  threatening.  These  gods  also 
made  overtures  to  White  Fang,  but  he  warned  them 
off  with  a  snarl,  and  the  master  did  likewise  with 
word  of  mouth.  At  such  times  White  Fang  leaned 
in  close  against  the  master's  legs  and  received  reas- 
suring pats  on  the  head. 

The  hound,  under  the  command,  "  Dick !  Lie 
down,  sir ! "  had  gone  up  the  steps  and  lain  down  to 
one  side  on  the  porch,  still  growling  and  keeping  a 
sullen  watch  on  the  intruder.  Collie  had  been  taken 
in  charge  by  one  of  the  woman-gods,  w^ho  held  arms 
around  her  neck  and  petted  and  caressed  her;  but 
Collie  was  very  much  perplexed  and  worried,  whin- 
ing and  restless,  outraged  by  the  permitted  presence 
of  this  wolf  and  confident  that  the  gods  were  making 
a  mistake. 

All  the  gods  started  up  the  steps  to  enter  the 
house.  White  Fang  followed  closely  at  the  master's 
heels.  Dick,  on  the  porch,  growled,  and  White  Fang, 
on  the  steps,  bristled  and  grow^led  back. 

"  Take  Collie  inside  and  leave  the  two  of  them  to 
fight  it  out,"  suggested  Scott's  father.  "  After  that 
they'll  be  friends." 

"  Then  White  Fang,  to  show  his  friendship,  will 
have  to  be  chief  mourner  at  the  funeral,"  laughed  the 
master. 

The  elder  Scott  looked  incredulously,  first  at  White 
Fang,  then  at  Dick,  and  finally  at  his  son. 


288  WHITE   FANG 

"  You  mean  that  .  .  .  ?  " 

Weedon  nodded  his  head.  "  I  mean  just  that. 
You'd  have  a  dead  Dick  inside  one  minute  —  two 
minutes  at  the  farthest." 

He  turned  to  White  Fang.  "  Come  on,  you  wolf. 
It's  you  that'll  have  to  come  inside." 

White  Fang  walked  stiff-legged  up  the  steps  and 
across  the  porch,  with  tail  rigidly  erect,  keeping  his 
eyes  on  Dick  to  guard  against  a  flank  attack,  and  at 
the  same  time  prepared  for  whatever  fierce  manifesta- 
tion of  the  unknown  that  might  pounce  out  upon  him 
from  the  interior  of  the  house.  But  no  thing  of  fear 
pounced  out,  and  when  he  had  gained  the  inside  he 
scouted  carefully  around,  looking  for  it  and  finding  it 
not.  Then  he  lay  down  with  a  contented  grunt  at 
the  master's  feet,  observing  all  that  went  on,  ever 
ready  to  spring  to  his  feet  and  fight  for  life  with  the 
terrors  he  felt  must  lurk  under  the  trap-roof  of  the 
dwelling. 


CHAPTER    III 

THE    god's    DOMALN" 

Not  only  was  White  Fang  adaptable  by  nature, 
but  he  had  travelled  much,  and  knew  the  meaning 
and  necessity  of  adjustment.  Here,  in  Sierra  Vista, 
which  was  the  name  of  Judge  Scott's  place.  White 
Fang  quickly  began  to  make  himself  at  home.  He 
had  no  further  serious  trouble  with  the  dogs.  They 
knew  more  about  the  ways  of  the  Southland  gods 
than  did  he,  and  in  their  eyes  he  had  qualified  when 
he  accompanied  the  gods  inside  the  house.  Wolf 
that  he  was,  and  unprecedented  as  it  was,  the  gods 
had  sanctioned  his  presence,  and  they,  the  dogs  of  the 
gods,  could  only  recognize  this  sanction. 

Dick,  perforce,  had  to  go  through  a  few  stiff 
formalities  at  first,  after  which  he  calmly  accepted 
White  Fang  as  an  addition  to  the  premises.  Had 
Dick  had  his  way,  they  would  have  been  good 
friends ;  but  White  Fang  was  averse  to  friendship. 
All  he  asked  of  other  dogs  was  to  be  let  alone.  His 
whole  life  he  had  kept  aloof  from  his  kind,  and  he 
still  desired  to  keep  aloof.  Dick's  overtures  bothered 
u  289 


290  WHITE   FANG 

him,  so  he  snarled  Dick  away.  In  the  north  he  had 
learned  the  lesson  that  he  must  let  the  master's  dogs 
alone,  and  he  did  not  forget  that  lesson  now.  But  he 
insisted  on  his  own  privacy  and  self-seclusion,  and 
so  thoroughly  ignored  Dick  that  that  good-natured 
creature  finally  gave  him  up  and  scarcely  took  as 
much  interest  in  him  as  in  the  hitching-post  near  the 
stable. 

Not  so  w^ith  Collie.  While  she  accepted  him 
because  it  was  the  mandate  of  the  gods,  that  was  no 
reason  that  she  should  leave  him  in  peace.  Woven 
into  her  being  was  the  memory  of  countless  crimes 
he  and  his  had  perpetrated  against  her  ancestry. 
Not  in  a  day  nor  a  generation  were  the  ravaged  sheep- 
folds  to  be  forgotten.  All  this  was  a  spur  to  her, 
pricking  her  to  retaliation.  She  could  not  fly  in  the 
face  of  the  gods  who  permitted  him,  but  that  did  not 
prevent  her  from  making  life  miserable  for  him  in 
petty  ways.  A  feud,  ages  old,  was  between  them, 
and  she,  for  one,  would  see  to  it  that  he  was 
reminded. 

So  Collie  took  advantage  of  her  sex  to  pick  upon 
White  Fang  and  maltreat  him.  His  instinct  would 
not  permit  him  to  attack  her,  while  her  persistence 
would  not  permit  him  to  ignore  her.  When  she 
rushed  at  him  he  turned  his  fur-protected  shoulder  to 
her  sharp  teeth  and  walked  away  stiff -legged  and 
stately.     When  she  forced  him  too  hard,  he  was  com- 


THE   GOD'S   DOMAIN  291 

pelled  to  go  about  in  a  circle,  his  shoulder  presented 
to  her,  his  head  turned  from  her,  and  on  his  face  and 
in  his  eyes  a  patient  and  bored  expression.  Some- 
times, however,  a  nip  on  his  hind-quarters  hastened 
his  retreat  and  made  it  anything  but  stately.  But  as 
a  rule  he  managed  to  maintain  a  dignity  that  was 
almost  solemnity.  He  ignored  her  existence  when- 
ever it  was  possible,  and  made  it  a  point  to  keep  out 
of  her  Vv^ay.  When  he  saw  or  heard  her  coming,  he 
got  up  and  walked  off. 

There  was  much  in  other  matters  for  White  Fang 
to  learn.  Life  in  the  Northland  was  simplicity  itself 
when  compared  with  the  complicated  affairs  of  Sierra 
Vista.  First  of  all,  he  had  to  learn  the  family  of  the 
master.  In  a  way  he  was  prepared  to  do  this.  As 
Mit-sah  and  Kloo-kooch  had  belonged  to  Gray  Beaver, 
sharing  his  food,  his  fire,  and  his  blankets,  so  now, 
at  Sierra  Vista,  belonged  to  the  love-master  all  the 
denizens  of  the  house. 

But  in  this  matter  there  was  a  difference,  and  many 
differences.  Sierra  Vista  was  a  far  vaster  affair  than 
the  tepee  of  Gray  Beaver.  There  were  many  persons 
to  be  considered.  There  was  Judge  Scott,  and  there 
was  his  wife.  There  were  the  master's  two  sisters, 
Beth  and  Mary.  There  was  his  wife,  Alice,  and  then 
there  were  his  children,  Weedon  and  Maud,  toddlers 
of  four  and  six.  There  was  no  way  for  anybody  to 
tell  him  about  all  these  people,  and  of  blood-ties  and 


y 


292  WHITE   FANG 

relationship  he  knew  nothing  whatever  and  never 
would  be  capable  of  knowing.  Yet  he  quickly 
worked  it  out  that  all  of  them  belonged  to  the  mas- 
ter. Then,  by  observation,  whenever  opportunity 
offered,  by  study  of  action,  speech,  and  the  very  into- 
nations of  the  voice,  he  slowly  learned  the  intimacy 
and  the  degree  of  favor  they  enjoyed  with  the  mas- 
ter. And  by  this  ascertained  standard,  White  Fang 
treated  them  accordingly.  What  was  of  value  to 
the  master  he  valued  ;  what  was  dear  to  the  master 
was  to  be  cherished  by  White  Fang  and  guarded 
carefully. 

Thus  it  was  with  the  two  children.  All  his  life  he 
had  disliked  children.  He  hated  and  feared  their 
hands.  The  lessons  were  not  tender  that  he  had 
learned  of  their  tyranny  and  cruelty  in  the  days  of 
the  Indian  villages.  When  Weedon  and  Maud  had 
first  approached  him,  he  growled  warningly  and 
looked  malignant.  A  cuff  from  the  master  and  a 
sharp  word  had  then  compelled  him  to  permit  their 
caresses,  though  he  growled  and  growled  under  their 
tiny  hands,  and  in  the  growl  there  was  no  crooning 
note.  Later,  he  observed  that  the  boy  and  girl  were 
of  great  value  in  the  master's  eyes.  Then  it  was  that 
no  cuff  nor  sharp  word  was  necessary  before  they 
could  pat  him. 

Yet  White  Fang  was  never  effusively  affectionate. 
He  yielded  to  the  master's  children  with  an  ill  bat 


THE    GOD'S    DOMAIN  293 

honest  grace,  and  endured  their  fooling  as  one  would 
endure  a  painful  operation.  When  he  could  no  longer 
endure,  he  would  get  up  and  stalk  determinedly  away 
from  them.  But  after  a  time,  he  grew  even  to  like 
the  children.  Still  he  was  not  demonstrative.  He 
would  not  go  up  to  them.  On  the  other  hand,  instead 
of  walking  away  at  sight  of  them,  he  waited  for 
them  to  come  to  him.  And  still  later,  it  was  noticed 
that  a  pleased  light  came  into  his  eyes  when  he  saw 
them  approaching,  and  that  he  looked  after  them 
with  an  appearance  of  curious  regret  when  they  left 
him  for  other  amusements. 

All  this  was  a  matter  of  development,  and  took 
time.  Next  in  his  regard,  after  the  children,  was 
Judge  Scott.  There  were  two  reasons,  possibly,  for 
this.  First,  he  was  evidently  a  valuable  possession 
of  the  master's,  and  next,  he  was  undemonstrative. 
White  Fang  liked  to  lie  at  his  feet  on  the  wide  porch 
when  he  read  the  newspaper,  from  time  to  time  favor- 
ing White  Fang  with  a  look  or  a  word  —  un trouble- 
some tokens  that  he  recognized  White  Fang's  presence 
and  existence.  But  this  was  only  when  the  master 
was  not  around.  When  the  master  appeared,  all 
other  beings  ceased  to  exist  so  far  as  White  Fang  was 
concerned. 

White  Fang  allowed  all  the  members  of  the  family 
to  pet  him  and  make  much  of  him  ;  but  he  never 
gave  to  them  what  he  gave  to  the  master.     No  caress 


294  WHITE   FANG 

of  theirs  could  put  the  love-croon  into  his  throat,  and, 
try  as  they  would,  they  could  never  persuade  him 
into  snuggling  against  them.  This  expression  of 
abandon  and  surrender,  of  absolute  trust,  he  reserved 
for  the  master  alone.  In  fact,  he  never  regarded  the 
members  of  the  family  in  any  other  light  than  posses- 
sions of  the  love-master. 

Also  White  Fang  had  early  come  to  differentiate 
betv^^een  the  family  and  the  servants  of  the  household. 
The  latter  were  afraid  of  him,  while  he  merely 
refrained  from  attacking  them.  This  because  he  con- 
sidered that  they  were  likewise  possessions  of  the 
master.  Between  White  Fang  and  them  existed  a 
neutrality  and  no  more.  They  cooked  for  the  master 
and  washed  the  dishes  and  did  other  things,  just  as 
Matt  had  done  up  in  the  Klondike.  They  were,  in 
short,  appurtenances  of  the  household. 

Outside  the  household  there  was  even  more  for 
White  Fang  to  learn.  The  master's  domain  w^as 
wide  and  complex,  yet  it  had  its  metes  and  bounds. 
The  land  itself  ceased  at  the  county  road.  Outside 
was  the  common  domain  of  all  gods  —  the  roads  and 
streets.  Then  inside  other  fences  were  the  particular 
domains  of  other  gods.  A  myriad  laws  governed  all 
these  things  and  determined  conduct ;  yet  he  did  not 
know  the  speech  of  the  gods,  nor  was  there  any  w^ay 
for  him  to  learn  save  by  experience.  He  obeyed  his 
natural  impulses  until  they  ran  him  counter  to  some 


THE   GOD'S   DOMAIN  295 

law.  When  this  had  been  done  a  few  times,  he 
learned  the  law  and  after  that  observed  it. 

But  most  potent  in  his  education  were  the  cuff  of 
the  master's  hand,  the  censure  of  the  master's  voice. 
Because  of  White  Fang's  very  great  love,  a  cuff  from 
the  master  hurt  him  far  more  than  any  beating  Gray 
Beaver  or  Beauty  Smith  had  ever  given  him.  They 
had  hurt  only  the  flesh  of  him  ;  beneath  the  flesh  the 
spirit  had  still  raged,  splendid  and  invincible.  But 
with  the  master  the  cuff  was  always  too  light  to 
hurt  the  flesh.  Yet  it  went  deeper.  It  was  an 
expression  of  the  master's  disapproval,  and  White 
Fang's  spirit  wilted  under  it. 

In  point  of  fact,  the  cuff  was  rarely  administered. 
The  master's  voice  was  sufficient.  By  it  White 
Fang  knew  whether  he  did  right  or  not.  By  it  he 
trimmed  his  conduct  and  adjusted  his  actions.  It 
was  the  compass  by  which  he  steered  and  learned  to 
chart  the  manners  of  a  new  land  and  life. 

In  the  Northland,  the  only  domesticated  animal 
was  the  dog.  All  other  animals  lived  in  the  Wild, 
and  were,  when  not  too  formidable,  lawful  spoil  for 
any  dog.  All  his  days  White  Fang  had  foraged 
among  the  live  things  for  food.  It  did  not  enter  his 
head  that  in  the  Southland  it  was  otherwise.  But 
this  he  was  to  learn  early  in  his  residence  in  Santa 
Clara  Valley.  Sauntering  around  the  corner  of  the 
house  in  the  early  morning,  he  came  upon  a  chicken 


296  WHITE   FANG 

that  had  escaped  from  the  chicken-yard.  White 
Fang's  natural  impulse  was  to  eat  it.  A  couple  of 
bounds,  a  flash  of  teeth  and  a  frightened  squawk,  and 
he  had  scooped  in  the  adventurous  fowl.  It  w^as  farm- 
bred  and  fat  and  tender ;  and  White  Fang  licked  his 
chops  and  decided  that  such  fare  was  good. 

Later  in  the  day,  he  chanced  upon  another  stray 
chicken  near  the  stables.  One  of  the  grooms  ran  to 
the  rescue.  He  did  not  know  White  Fang's  breed, 
so  for  weapon  he  took  a  light  buggy-w^iip.  At  the 
first  cut  of  the  whip.  White  Fang  left  the  chicken  for 
the  man.  A  club  might  have  stopped  White  Fang, 
but  not  a  whip.  Silently,  without  flinching,  he  took 
a  second  cut  in  his  forward  rush,  and  as  he  leaped 
for  the  throat  the  groom  cried  out,  "My  God!"  and 
staggered  backward.  He  dropped  the  whip  and 
shielded  his  throat  with  his  arms.  In  consequence, 
his  forearm  was  ripped  open  to  the  bone. 

The  man  was  badly  frightened.  It  was  not  so 
much  White  Fang's  ferocity  as  it  was  his  silence  that 
unnerved  the  groom.  Still  protecting  his  throat  and 
face  with  his  torn  and  bleeding  arm,  he  tried  to 
retreat  to  the  barn.  And  it  would  have  gone  hard 
with  him  had  not  Collie  appeared  on  the  scene.  As 
she  had  saved  Dick's  life,  she  now  saved  the  groom's. 
She  rushed  upon  White  Fang  in  frenzied  wrath.  She 
had  been  right.  She  had  known  better  than  the 
blundering  gods.     All  her    suspicions  were  justified. 


THE   GOD'S   DOMAIN  297 

Here  was  the  ancient  marauder  up  to  his  old  tricks 
again. 

The  groom  escaped  into  the  stables,  and  White 
Fang  backed  away  before  Collie's  wicked  teeth,  or 
presented  his  shoulder  to  them  and  circled  round 
and  round.  But  Collie  did  not  give  over,  as  was  her 
wont,  after  a  decent  interval  of  chastisement.  On 
the  contrary,  she  grew  more  excited  and  angry  every 
moment,  until,  in  the  end.  White  Fang  flung  dignity 
to  the  winds  and  frankly  fled  away  from  her  across 
the  fields. 

'^  He'll  learn  to  leave  chickens  alone,"  the  master 
said.  "  But  I  can't  give  him  the  lesson  until  I  catch 
him  in  the  act." 

Two  nights  later  came  the  act,  but  on  a  more  gen- 
erous scale  than  the  master  had  anticipated.  W^hite 
Fang  had  observed  closely  the  chicken-yards  and  the 
habits  of  the  chickens.  In  the  night-time,  after  they 
had  gone  to  roost,  he  climbed  to  the  top  of  a  pile  of 
newly  hauled  lumber.  From  there  he  gained  the 
roof  of  a  chicken-house,  passed  over  the  ridgepole 
and  dropped  to  the  ground  inside.  A  moment  later 
he  was  inside  the  house,  and  the  slaughter  began. 

In  the  morning,  when  the  master  came  out  on  to 
the  porch,  fifty  white  Leghorn  hens,  laid  out  in  a 
row  by  the  groom,  greeted  his  eyes.  He  whistled 
to  himself,  softly,  first  with  surprise,  and  then,  at 
the  end,  with  admiration.      His  eyes  were  likewise 


298  WHITE   FANG 

greeted  by  White  Fang,  but  about  the  latter  there 
were  no  signs  of  shame  nor  guilt.  He  carried  hina- 
self  with  pride,  as  though,  forsooth,  he  had  achieved 
a  deed  praiseworthy  and  meritorious.  There  was 
about  him  no  consciousness  of  sin.  The  master's  lips 
tightened  as  he  faced  the  disagreeable  task.  Then  he 
talked  harshly  to  the  unwitting  culprit,  and  in  his 
voice  there  was  nothing  but  godlike  wrath.  Also,  he 
held  White  Fang's  nose  down  to  the  slain  hens,  and 
at  the  same  time  cuffed  him  soundly. 

White  Fang  never  raided  a  chicken-roost  again. 
It  was  against  the  law,  and  he  had  learned  it.  Then 
the  master  took  him  into  the  chicken-yards.  White 
Fang's  natural  impulse,  when  he  saw  the  live  food 
fluttering  about  him  and  under  his  very  nose,  was 
to  spring  upon  it.  He  obeyed  the  impulse,  but  was 
checked  by  the  master's  voice.  They  continued  in 
the  yards  for  half  an  hour.  Time  and  again  the 
impulse  surged  over  White  Fang,  and  each  time,  as 
he  yielded  to  it,  he  was  checked  by  the  master's 
voice.  Thus  it  was  he  learned  the  law,  and  ere  he 
left  the  domain  of  the  chickens,  he  had  learned  to 
ignore  their  existence. 

<'  You  can  never  cure  a  chicken-killer."  Judge 
Scott  shook  his  head  sadly  at  the  luncheon  table,  when 
his  son  narrated  the  lesson  he  had  given  White 
Fang.  "  Once  they've  got  the  habit  and  the  taste  of 
blood  ..."     Again  he  shook  his    head   sadly. 


THE   GOD'S   DOMAIN  299 

But  Weedon  Scott  did  not  agree  with  his  father. 

"  I'll  tell  you  what  I'll  do,"  he  challenged  finally. 
"  I'll  lock  White  Fang  in  with  the  chickens  all 
afternoon." 

"  But  think  of  the  chickens,"  objected  the  Judge. 

"  And  furthermore,"  the  son  went  on,  "  for  every 
chicken  he  kills,  I'll  pay  you  one  dollar  gold  coin  of 
the  realm." 

"But  you  should  penalize  father,  too,"  interposed 
Beth. 

Her  sister  seconded  her,  and  a  chorus  of  approval 
arose  from  around  the  table.  Judge  Scott  nodded 
his    head  in  agreement. 

"  All  right."  Weedon  Scott  pondered  for  a 
moment.  "  And  if,  at  the  end  of  the  afternoon, 
White  Fang  hasn't  harmed  a  chicken,  for  every  ten 
minutes  of  the  time  he  has  spent  in  the  yard,  you 
will  have  to  say  to  him,  gravely  and  with  delibera- 
tion, just  as  if  you  were  sitting  on  the  bench  and 
solemnly  passing  judgment,  « White  Fang,  you  are 
smarter  than   I  thought.' " 

From  hidden  points  of  vantage  the  family  watched 
the  performance.  But  it  w^as  a  fizzle.  Locked  in  the 
yard  and  there  deserted  by  the  master.  White  Fang 
lay  down  and  went  to  sleep.  Once  he  got  up  and 
walked  over  to  the  trough  for  a  drink  of  water.  The 
chickens  he  calmly  ignored.  So  far  as  he  was  con- 
cerned they  did  not  exist.     At  four  o'clock   he  exe- 


300  WHITE   FANG 

cuted  a  running  jump,  gained  the  roof  of  the  chicken 
house  and  leaped  to  the  ground  outside,  whence  he 
sauntered  gravely  to  the  house.  He  had  learned  the 
law.  And  on  the  porch,  before  the  delighted  family. 
Judge  Scott,  face  to  face  with  White  Fang,  said 
slowly  and  solemnly,  sixteen  times,  "  White  Fang,  you 
are  smarter  than  I  thought." 

But  it  was  the  multiplicity  of  laws  that  befuddled 
White  Fang  and  often  brought  him  into  disgrace. 
He  had  to  learn  that  he  must  not  touch  the  chickens 
that  belonged  to  other  gods.  Then  there  were  cats, 
and  rabbits,  and  turkeys  ;  all  these  he  must  let  alone. 
In  fact,  when  he  had  but  partly  learned  the  law,  his 
impression  was  that  he  must  leave  all  live  things 
alone.  Out  in  the  back-pasture,  a  quail  could  flutter 
up  under  his  nose  unharmed.  All  tense  and  trem- 
bling with  eagerness  and  desire,  he  mastered  his  in- 
stinct and  stood  still.  He  was  obeying  the  will  of 
the  gods. 

And  then,  one  day,  again  out  in  the  back-pasture, 
he  saw  Dick  start  a  jackrabbit  and  run  it.  The 
master  himself  was  looking  on  and  did  not  interfere. 
Nay,  he  encouraged  White  Fang  to  join  in  the  chase. 
And  thus  he  learned  that  there  was  no  taboo  on  jack- 
rabbits.  In  the  end  he  worked  out  the  complete  law. 
Between  him  and  all  domestic  animals  there  must  be 
no  hostilities.  If  not  amity,  at  least  neutrality  must 
obtain.     But  the  other  animals  —  the  squirrels,  and 


THE   GOD'S   DOMAIN  301 

quail,  and  cottontails,  were  creatures  of  the  Wild  who 
had  never  ^delded  allegiance  to  man.  They  were  the 
lawful  prey  of  any  dog.  It  was  only  the  tame  that 
the  gods  protected,  and  between  the  tame  deadly 
strife  w^as  not  permitted.  The  gods  held  the  power  of 
life  and  death  over  their  subjects,  and  the  gods  were 
jealous  of  their  power. 

Life  was  complex  in  the  Santa  Clara  Valley  after 
the  simplicities  of  the  Northland.  And  the  chief 
thing  demanded  by  these  intricacies  of  civilization  was 
control,  restraint  —  a  poise  of  self  that  was  as  delicate 
as  the  fluttering  of  gossamer  wings  and  at  the  same 
time  as  rigid  as  steel.  Life  had  a  thousand  faces, 
and  White  Fang  found  he  must  meet  them  all — thus, 
when  he  went  to  town,  in  to  San  Jose,  running  behind 
the  carriage  or  loafing  about  the  streets  when  the 
carriage  stopped.  Life  flowed  past  him,  deep  and 
wide  and  varied,  continually  impinging  upon  his 
senses,  demanding  of  him  instant  and  endless  adjust- 
ments and  correspondences,  and  compelling  him, 
almost  always,  to  suppress  his   natural  impulses. 

There  were  butcher-shops  w^here  meat  hung  within 
reach.  This  meat  he  must  not  touch.  There  were 
cats  at  the  houses  the  master  visited  that  must  be  let 
alone.  And  there  were  dogs  everywhere  that  snarled 
at  him  and  that  he  must  not  attack.  And  then,  on 
the  crowded  sidewalks,  there  were  persons  innumerable 
whose  attention  he  attracted.     They  would  stop  and 


302  WHITE   FANG 

look  at  him,  point  him  out  to  one  another,  examine 
him,  talk  to  him,  and,  worst  of  all,  pat  him.  And 
these  perilous  contacts  from  all  these  strange  hands 
he  must  endure.  Yet  this  endurance  he  achieved. 
Furthermore  he  got  over  being  av^kward  and  self- 
conscious.  In  a  lofty  way  he  received  the  attentions 
of  the  multitudes  of  strange  gods.  With  condescen- 
sion he  accepted  their  condescension.  On  the  other 
hand,  there  was  something  about  him  that  prevented 
great  familiarity.  They  patted  him  on  the  head  and 
passed  on,  contented  and  pleased  with  their  own 
daring. 

But  it  was  not  all  easy  for  White  Fang.  Running 
behind  the  carriage  in  the  outskirts  of  San  Jose,  he 
encountered  certain  small  boys  who  made  a  practice 
of  flinging  stones  at  him.  Yet  he  knew  that  it  was 
not  permitted  him  to  pursue  and  drag  them  down. 
Here  he  was  compelled  to  violate  his  instinct  of  self- 
preservation,  and  violate  it  he  did,  for  he  was  becom- 
ing tame  and  qualifying  himself  for  civilization. 

Nevertheless,  White  Fang  was  not  quite  satisfied 
with  the  arrangement.  He  had  no  abstract  ideas 
about  justice  and  fair  play.  But  there  is  a  certain 
sense  of  equity  that  resides  in  life,  and  it  was  this 
sense  in  him  that  resented  the  unfairness  of  his  being 
permitted  no  defence  against  the  stone-throwers.  He 
forgot  that  in  the  covenant  entered  into  between  him 
and  the  gods  they  were  pledged  to  care  for  him  and 


THE   GOD'S   DOMAIN  303 

defend  him.  But  one  day  the  master  sprang  from  the 
carriage,  whip  in  hand,  and  gave  the  stone-throwers  a 
thrashing.  After  that  they  threw  stones  no  more, 
and  White  Fang  understood  and  was  satisfied. 

One  other  experience  of  similar  nature  was  his. 
On  the  way  to  town,  hanging  around  the  saloon  at 
the  cross-roads,  were  three  dogs  that  made  a  practice 
of  rushing  out  upon  him  when  he  went  by.  Know- 
ing his  deadly  method  of  fighting,  the  master  had 
never  ceased  impressing  upon  White  Fang  the  law 
that  he  must  not  fight.  As  a  result,  having  learned 
the  lesson  well.  White  Fang  was  hard  put  whenever 
he  passed  the  cross-roads  saloon.  After  the  first  rush, 
each  time,  his  vSnarl  kept  the  three  dogs  at  a  distance, 
but  they  trailed  along  behind,  yelping  and  bickering 
and  insulting  him.  This  endured  for  some  time. 
The  men  at  the  saloon  even  urged  the  dogs  on  to 
attack  White  Fang.  One  day  they  openly  sicked  the 
the  dogs  on  him.     The  master  stopped  the  carriage. 

"  Go  to  it,"  he  said  to  W^hite  Fang. 

But  White  Fang  could  not  believe.  He  looked  at 
the  master,  and  he  looked  at  the  dogs.  Then  he 
looked  back  eagerly  and  questioningly  at  the  master. 

The  master  nodded  his  head.  "Go  to  them,  old 
fellow.     Eat  them  up." 

White  Fang  no  longer  hesitated.  He  turned  and 
leaped  silently  among  his  enemies.  All  three  faced 
him.     There  was    a  great  snarling  and    growling,  a 


304  WHITE   FANG 

clashing  of  teeth  and  a  flurry  of  bodies.  The  dust  of 
the  road  arose  in  a  cloud  and  screened  the  battle. 
But  at  the  end  of  several  minutes  two  dogs  were 
struggling  in  the  dirt  and  the  third  was  in  full  flight. 
He  leaped  a  ditch,  w^ent  through  a  rail  fence,  and 
fled  across  a  field.  White  Fang  followed,  sliding 
over  the  ground  in  wolf  fashion  and  with  wolf  speed, 
swiftly  and  without  noise,  and  in  the  centre  of  the 
field  he  dragged  down  and  slew  the  dog. 

With  this  triple  killing  his  main  troubles  with  dogs 
ceased.  The  word  went  up  and  down  the  valley,  and 
men  saw  to  it  that  their  dogs  did  not  molest  the 
Fighting  Wolf. 


CHAPTER    IV 


THE    CALL    OF    KIND 


The  months  came  and  went.  There  was  plenty  of 
food  and  no  work  in  the  Southland,  and  White  Fang 
lived  fat  and  prosperous  and  happy.  Not  alone  was 
he  in  the  geographical  Southland,  for  he  was  in  the 
Southland  of  life.  Human  kindness  was  like  a  sun 
shining  upon  him,  and  he  flourished  like  a  flower 
planted  in  good  soil. 

And  yet  he  remained  somehow^  different  from  other 
dogs.  He  knew  the  law  even  better  than  did  the 
dogs  that  had  known  no  other  life,  and  he  observed 
the  law  more  punctiliously ;  but  still  there  was  about 
him  a  suggestion  of  lurking  ferocity,  as  though  the 
Wild  still  lingered  in  him  and  the  w^olf  in  him  merely 
slept. 

He  never  chummed  with  other  dogs.  Lonely  he 
had  lived,  so  far  as  his  kind  was  concerned,  and  lonely 
he  would  continue  to  live.  In  his  puppyhood,  under 
the  persecution  of  Lip-lip  and  the  puppy-pack,  and  in 
his  fighting  days  with  Beauty  Smith,  he  had  acquired 
a  fixed  aversion  for  dogs.     The  natural  course  of  his 

X  305 


306  WHITE   FANG 

life  had  been  diverted,  and,  recoiling  from  his  kind, 
he  had  clung  to  the  human. 

Besides,  all  Southland  dogs  looked  upon  him  with 
suspicion.  He  aroused  in  them  their  instinctive  fear 
of  the  Wild,  and  they  greeted  him  always  with  snarl 
and  growl  and  belligerent  hatred.  He,  on  the  other 
hand,  learned  that  it  w^as  not  necessary  to  use  his 
teeth  upon  them.  His  naked  fangs  and  writhing  lips 
were  uniformly  efficacious,  rarely  failing  to  send  a 
bellowing  on-rushing  dog  back  on  its  haunches. 

But  there  was  one  trial  in  White  Fang's  life  — 
Collie.  She  never  gave  him  a  moment's  peace.  She 
was  not  so  amenable  to  the  law  as  he.  She  defied 
all  efforts  of  the  master  to  make  her  become  friends 
with  White  Fang.  Ever  in  his  ears  was  sounding 
her  sharp  and  nervous  snarl.  She  had  never  forgiven 
him  the  chicken-killing  episode,  and  persistently  held 
to  the  belief  that  his  intentions  were  bad.  She  found 
him  guilty  before  the  act,  and  treated  him  accord- 
ingly. She  became  a  pest  to  him,  like  a  policeman 
following  him  around  the  stable  and  the  grounds,  and, 
if  he  even  so  much  as  glanced  curiously  at  a  pigeon 
or  chicken,  bursting  into  an  outcry  of  indignation  and 
wrath.  His  favorite  way  of  ignoring  her  was  to  lie 
down,  with  his  head  on  his  fore-paws,  and  pretend 
sleep.     This  always  dumfounded  and  silenced  her. 

With  the  exception  of  Collie,  all  things  went  well 
with  White  Fang.     He  had  learned  control  and  poise, 


THE   CALL   OF   KIND  307 

and  he  knew  the  law.  He  achieved  a  staidness,  and 
calmness,  and  philosophic  tolerance.  He  no  longer 
lived  in  a  hostile  environment.  Danger  and  hurt  and 
death  did  not  lurk  everywhere  about  him.  In  time, 
the  unknown,  as  a  thing  of  terror  and  menace  ever 
impending,  faded  away.  Life  was  soft  and  easy.  It 
flowed  along  smoothly,  and  neither  fear  nor  foe  lurked 
by  the  way. 

He  missed  the  snow  without  being  aware  of  it. 
« An  unduly  long  summer "  would  have  been  his 
thought  had  he  thought  about  it ;  as  it  was,  he  merely 
missed  the  snow  in  a  vague,  subconscious  way.  In 
the  same  fashion,  especially  in  the  heat  of  summer 
when  he  suffered  from  tlie  sun,  he  experienced  faint 
longings  for  the  Northbnd.  Their  only  eifect  upon 
him,  however,  was  to  make  him  uneasy  and  restless 
without  his  knowing  what  was  the  matter. 

White  Fang  had  never  been  very  demonstrative. 
Beyond  his  snuggling  and  the  throwing  of  a  crooning 
note  into  his  love-growl,  he  had  no  way  of  expressing 
his  love.  Yet  it  was  given  him  to  discover  a  third 
way.  He  had  always  been  susceptible  to  the  laughter 
of  the  gods.  Laughter  had  affected  him  with  mad- 
ness, made  him  frantic  with  rage.  But  he  did  not 
have  it  in  him  to  be  angry  with  the  love-master,  and 
when  that  god  elected  to  laugh  at  him  in  a  good- 
natured,  bantering  way,  he  was  nonplussed.  He  could 
feel  the  pricking  and  stinging  of  the  old  anger  as  it 


308  WHITE   FANG 

strove  to  rise  up  in  him,  but  it  strove  against  love. 
He  could  not  be  angry ;  yet  he  had  to  do  something. 
At  first  he  was  dignified,  and  the  master  laughed  the 
harder.  Then  he  tried  to  be  more  dignified,  and 
the  master  laughed  harder  than  before.  In  the  end, 
the  master  laughed  him  out  of  his  dignity.  His  jaws 
slightly  parted,  his  lips  lifted  a  little,  and  a  quizzical 
expression  that  was  more  love  than  humor  came  into 
his  eyes.     He  had  learned  to  laugh. 

Likewise  he  learned  to  romp  with  the  master,  to 
be  tumbled  down  and  rolled  over,  and  be  the  victim 
of  innumerable  rough  tricks.  In  return  he  feigned 
anger,  bristling  and  growling  ferociously,  and  clipping 
his  teeth  together  in  snaps  that  had  all  the  seeming 
of  deadly  intention.  But  he  never  forgot  himself. 
Those  snaps  were  always  delivered  on  the  empty  air. 
At  the  end  of  such  a  romp,  when  blow  and  cuff  and 
snap  and  snarl  were  fast  and  furious,  they  would 
break  off  suddenly  and  stand  several  feet  apart,  glar- 
ing at  each  other.  And  then,  just  as  suddenly,  like 
the  sun  rising  on  a  stormy  sea,  they  would  begin  to 
laugh.  This  would  always  culminate  with  the  mas- 
ter's arms  going  around  White  Fang's  neck  and 
shoulders  while  the  latter  crooned  and  growled  his 
love-song. 

But  nobody  else  ever  romped  with  White  Fang. 
He  did  not  permit  it.  He  stood  on  his  dignity, 
and  when  they  attempted  it,  his  warning  snarl  and 


THE   CALL    OF    KIND  309 

bristling  mane  were  anything  but  playful.  That  he 
allowed  the  master  these  liberties  was  no  reason  that 
he  should  be  a  common  dog,  loving  here  and  loving 
there,  everybody's  property  for  a  romp  and  good  time. 
He  loved  with  single  heart  and  refused  to  cheapen 
himself  or  his  love. 

The  master  went  out  on  horseback  a  great  deal, 
and  to  accompany  him  was  one  of  White  Fang's  chief 
duties  in  life.  In  the  Northland  he  had  evidenced 
his  fealty  by  toiling  in  the  harness ;  but  there  were 
no  sleds  in  the  Southland,  nor  did  dogs  pack  burdens 
on  their  backs.  So  he  rendered  fealty  in  the  new 
way,  by  running  with  the  master's  horse.  The  long- 
est day  never  played  White  Fang  out.  His  was  the 
gait  of  the  wolf,  smooth,  tireless,  and  effortless,  and 
at  the  end  of  fifty  miles  he  would  come  in  jauntily 
ahead  of  the  horse. 

It  was  in  connection  with  the  riding,  that  White 
Fang  achieved  one  other  mode  of  expression  — 
remarkable  in  that  he  did  it  but  twice  in  all  his  life. 
The  first  time  occurred  when  the  master  was  trying 
to  teach  a  spirited  thoroughbred  the  method  of  open- 
ing and  closing  gates  without  the  rider's  dismounting. 
Time  and  again  and  many  times  he  ranged  the  horse 
up  to  the  gate  in  the  effort  to  close  it,  and  each  time 
the  horse  became  frightened  and  backed  and  plunged 
away.  It  grew  more  nervous  and  excited  every 
moment.     When  it  reared,  the  master  put  the  spurs 


310  WHITE   FANG 

to  it  and  made  it  drop  its  fore-legs  back  to  earth, 
whereupon  it  would  begin  kicking  with  its  hind-legs. 
White  Fang  watched  the  performance  with  increasing 
anxiety  until  he  could  contain  himself  no  longer,  when 
he  sprang  in  front  of  the  horse  and  barked  savagely 
and  warningly. 

Though  he  often  tried  to  bark  thereafter,  and  the 
master  encouraged  him,  he  succeeded  only  once, 
and  then  it  was  not  in  the  master's  presence.  A 
scamper  across  the  pasture,  a  jackrabbit  rising  sud- 
denly under  the  horse's  feet,  a  violent  sheer,  a  stumble, 
a  fall  to  earth,  and  a  broken  leg  for  the  master  were 
the  cause  of  it.  White  Fang  sprang  in  a  rage  at  the 
throat  of  the  offending  horse,  but  was  checked  by  the 
master's  voice. 

"  Home  !  Go  home  !  "  the  master  commanded, 
when  he  had  ascertained  his  injury. 

White  Fang  was  disinclined  to  desert  him.  The 
master  thought  of  writing  a  note,  but  searched  his 
pockets  vainly  for  pencil  and  paper.  Again  he  com- 
manded White  Fang  to  go  home. 

The  latter  regarded  him  wistfully,  started  away, 
then  returned  and  whined  softly.  The  master  talked 
to  him  gently  but  seriously,  and  he  cocked  his  ears 
and  listened  with  painful  intentness. 

"That's  all  right,  old  fellow,  you  just  run  along 
home,"  ran  the  talk.  "  Go  on  home  and  tell  them 
what's  happened  to  me.  Home  with  you,  you  wolf- 
Get  along  home  !  " 


THE   CALL    OF    KIND  311 

White  Fang  knew  the  meaning  of  "home,"  and 
though  he  did  not  miderstand  the  remainder  of  the 
master's  language,  he  knew  it  was  his  will  that  he 
should  go  home.  He  turned  and  trotted  reluctantly 
awa}' .  Then  he  stopped,  undecided,  and  looked  back 
over  his  shoulder. 

"  Go  home !  "  came  the  sharp  command,  and  this 
time  he  obeyed. 

The  family  was  on  the  porch,  taking  the  cool  of 
the  afternoon,  when  White  Fang  arrived.  He  came 
in  among  them,  panting,  covered  with  dust. 

"  Weedon's  back,"  Weedon's  mother  announced. 

The  children  welcomed  W^hite  Fang  with  glad 
cries  and  ran  to  meet  him.  He  avoided  them  and 
passed  down  the  porch,  but  they  cornered  him 
against  a  rocking-chair  and  the  railing.  He  growled 
and  tried  to  push  b}^  them.  Their  mother  looked 
apprehensively  in   their  direction. 

"  I  confess,  he  makes  me  nervous  around  the  chil- 
dren," slie  said.  "  I  have  a  dread  that  he  will  turn 
upon  them  unexpectedly  some  day." 

Growling  savagely.  White  Fang  sprang  out  of  the 
corner,  overturning  the  boy  and  the  girl.  The  mother 
called  them  to  her  and  comforted  them,  telling  them 
not  to  bother  White  Fang. 

"  A  wolf  is  a  wolf,"  commented  Judge  Scott. 
"  There  is  no  trusting  one." 

"  But  he  is  not  all  wolf,"  interposed  Beth,  standing 
for  her  brother  in  his  absence. 


312  WHITE   FANG 

"  You  have  only  Weedon's  opinion  for  that,"  re- 
joined the  Judge.  "  He  merely  surmises  that  there 
is  some  strain  of  dog  in  White  Fang ;  but  as  he  will 
tell  you  himself,  he  knows  nothing  about  it.  As  for 
his  appearance  —  " 

He  did  not  finish  the  sentence.  White  Fang  stood 
before  him,  growling  fiercely. 

"  Go  away  !  Lie  down,  sir !  "  Judge  Scott  com- 
manded. 

White  Fang  turned  to  the  love-master's  wife.  She 
screamed  with  fright  as  he  seized  her  dress  in  his 
teeth  and  dragged  on  it  till  the  frail  fabric  tore  away. 
By  this  time  he  had  become  the  centre  of  interest. 
He  had  ceased  from  his  growling  and  stood,  head  up, 
looking  into  their  faces.  His  throat  worked  spas- 
modically, but  made  no  sound,  while  he  struggled 
with  all  his  body,  convulsed  with  the  effort  to  rid 
himself  of  the  incommunicable  something  that 
strained  for  utterance. 

"  I  hope  he  is  not  going  mad,"  said  Weedon's 
mother.  "  I  told  Weedon  that  I  was  afraid  the  warm 
climate  would  not  agree  with  an  Arctic  animal." 

"  He's  trying  to  speak,  I  do  believe,"  Beth  an- 
nounced. 

At  this  moment  speech  came  to  White  Fang,  rush- 
ing up  in  a  great  burst  of  barking. 

«'  Something  has  happened  to  Weedon,"  his  wife 
said  decisively. 


THE   CALL   OF   KIND  313 

They  were  all  on  their  feet,  now,  and  White  Fang 
ran  down  the  steps,  looking  back  for  them  to  follow. 
For  the  second  and  last  time  in  his  life  he  had 
barked  and  made   himself  understood. 

After  this  event  he  found  a  warmer  place  in  the 
hearts  of  the  Sierra  Vista  people,  and  even  the  groom 
whose  arm  he  had  slashed  admitted  that  he  was  a 
wise  dog  even  if  he  was  a  wolf.  Judge  Scott  still 
held  to  the  same  opinion,  and  proved  it  to  every- 
body's dissatisfaction  by  measurements  and  descrip- 
tions taken  from  the  encyclopaedia  and  various  works 
on  natural  history. 

The  days  came  and  went,  streaming  their  unbroken 
sunshine  over  the  Santa  Clara  Valley.  But  as  tliey 
;  grew  shorter  and  White  Fang's  second  winter  in  the 
Southland  came  on,  he  made  a  strange  discovery. 
Collie's  teeth  were  no  longer  sharp.  There  was  a 
playfulness  about  her  nips  and  a  gentleness  that  pre- 
vented them  from  really  hurting  him.  He  forgot 
that  she  had  made  life  a  burden  to  him,  and  when 
she  disported  herself  around  him  he  responded  sol- 
emnly, striving  to  be  playful  and  becoming  no  more 
than  ridiculous. 

One  day  she  led  him  oif  on  a  long  chase  through 
the  back-pasture  and  into  the  woods.  It  was  the 
afternoon  that  the  master  was  to  ride,  and  White 
Fang  knew  it.  The  horse  stood  saddled  and  waiting 
at  the  door.     White  Fang  hesitated.     But  there  was 


314  WHITE   FANG 

that  in  him  deeper  than  all  the  law  he  had  learned, 
than  the  customs  that  had  moulded  him,  than  his 
love  for  the  master,  than  the  very  will  to  live  of  him- 
self ;  and  when,  in  the  moment  of  his  indecision, 
Collie  nipped  him  and  scampered  off,  he  turned  and 
followed  after.  The  master  rode  alone  that  day  ;  and 
in  the  woods,  side  by  side.  White  Fang  ran  with 
Collie,  as  his  mother,  Kiche,  and  old  One  Eye  had 
run  long  years  before  in  the  silent  Northland  forest. 


In  the  woods,  side  by  side,  White  Fang  ran  with  Lou 


CHAPTER   V 

THE    SLEEPING    WOLF 

It  was  about  this  time  that  the  newspapers  were 
full  of  the  daring  escape  of  a  convict  from  San  Quen- 
tin  prison.  He  was  a  ferocious  man.  He  had  been 
ill-made  in  the  making.  He  had  not  been  born  right, 
and  he  had  not  been  helped  any  by  the  moulding  he 
had  received  at  the  hands  of  society.  The  hands  of 
society  are  harsh,  and  this  man  was  a  striking  sample 
of  its  handiwork.  He  was  a  beast  —  a  human  beast, 
it  is  true,  but  nevertheless  so  terrible  a  beast  that  he 
can  best  be  characterized  as  carnivorous. 

In  San  Quentin  prison  he  had  proved  incorrigible. 
Punishment  failed  to  break  his  spirit.  He  could  die 
dumb-mad  and  fighting  to  the  last,  but  he  could  not 
live  and  be  beaten.  The  more  fiercely  he  fought,  the 
more  harshly  society  handled  him,  and  the  only  effect 
of  harshness  was  to  make  him  fiercer.  Straight- 
jackets,  starvation,  and  beatings  and  clubbings  were 
the  wrong  treatment  for  Jim  Hall ;  but  it  was  the 
treatment  he  received.  It  was  the  treatment  he  had 
received  from  the  time  he  was  a  little  pulpy  boy  in 

315 


816  WHITE   FANG 

a  San  Francisco  slum  —  soft  clay  in  the  hands  of 
society  and  ready  to  be  formed  into  something. 

It  was  during  Jim  Hall's  third  term  in  prison  that 
he  encountered  a  guard  that  was  almost  as  great  a 
beast  as  he.  The  guard  treated  him  unfairly,  lied 
about  him  to  the  warden,  lost  him  his  credits,  perse- 
cuted him.  The  difference  between  them  was  that 
the  guard  carried  a  bunch  of  keys  and  a  revolver. 
Jim  Hall  had  only  his  naked  hands  and  his  teeth. 
But  he  sprang  upon  the  guard  one  day  and  used 
his  teeth  on  the  other's  throat  just  like  any  jungle 
animal. 

After  this,  Jim  Hall  went  to  live  in  the  incorrigible 
cell.  He  lived  there  three  years.  The  cell  was  of 
iron,  the  floor,  the  walls,  the  roof.  He  never  left  this 
cell.  He  never  saw  the  sky  nor  the  sunshine.  Day 
was  a  twilight  and  night  was  a  black  silence.  He 
was  in  an  iron  tomb,  buried  alive.  He  saw  no 
human  face,  spoke  to  no  human  thing.  When  his 
food  was  shoved  in  to  him,  he  growled  like  a  wild 
animal.  He  hated  all  things.  For  days  and  nights 
he  bellowed  his  rage  at  the  universe.  For  weeks  and 
months  he  never  made  a  sound,  in  the  black  silence 
eating  his  very  soul.  He  was  a  man  and  a  mon- 
strosity, as  fearful  a  thing  of  fear  as  ever  gibbered 
in  the  visions  of  a  maddened   brain. 

And  then,  one  night,  he  escaped.  The  warden  said 
it  was  impossible,  but  nevertheless  the  cell  was  empty, 


THE   SLEEPING   WOLF  317 

and  half  in  half  out  of  it  lay  the  body  of  a  dead 
guard.  Two  other  dead  guards  marked  his  trail 
through  the  prison  to  the  outer  walls,  and  he  had 
killed  with  his  hands  to  avoid  noise. 

He  was  armed  with  the  weapons  of  the  slain 
guards  —  a  live  arsenal  that  fled  through  the  hills 
pursued  by  the  organized  might  of  society.  A  heavy 
price  of  gold  was  upon  his  head.  Avaricious  farmers 
hunted  him  with  shot-guns.  His  blood  might  pay  off 
a  mortgage  or  send  a  son  to  college.  Public-spirited 
citizens  took  down  their  rifles  and  went  out  after  him. 
A  pack  of  bloodhounds  followed  the  way  of  his  bleed- 
ing feet.  And  the  sleuth-hounds  of  the  law,  the  paid 
fighting  animals  of  society,  with  telephone,  and  tele- 
graph, and  special  train,  clung  to  his  trail  night  and  day. 

Sometimes  they  came  upon  him,  and  men  faced 
him  like  heroes,  or  stampeded  through  barb-wire 
fences  to  the  delight  of  the  commonwealth  reading 
the  account  at  the  breakfast  table.  It  was  after  such 
encounters  that  the  dead  and  wounded  were  carted 
back  to  the  towns,  and  their  places  filled  by  men 
eager  for  the  man-hunt. 

And  then  Jim  Hall  disappeared.  The  bloodhounds 
vainly  quested  on  the  lost  trail.  Inoffensive  ranchers 
in  remote  valleys  were  held  up  by  armed  men  and 
compelled  to  identify  themselves ;  while  the  remains 
of  Jim  Hall  were  discovered  on  a  dozen  mountain- 
sides by  greedy  claimants  for  blood-money. 


318  WHITE   FANG 

In  the  meantime  the  newspapers  were  read  at 
Sierra  Vista,  not  so  much  with  interest  as  with 
anxiety.  The  women  were  afraid.  Judge  Scott 
pooh-poohed  and  laughed,  but  not  with  reason,  for  it 
was  in  his  last  days  on  the  bench  that  Jim  Hall  had 
stood  before  him  and  received  sentence.  And  in  open 
courtroom,  before  all  men,  Jim  Hall  had  proclaimed 
that  the  day  would  come  when  he  would  wreak  ven- 
geance on  the  judge  that  sentenced  him. 

For  once,  Jim  Hall  was  right.  He  was  innocent 
of  the  crime  for  which  he  was  sentenced.  It  was  a 
case,  in  the  parlance  of  thieves  and  police,  of  '^  rail- 
roading." Jim  Hall  was  being  "  railroaded"  to  prison 
for  a  crime  he  had  not  committed.  Because  of  the 
two  prior  convictions  against  him.  Judge  Scott  im- 
posed upon  him  a  sentence  of  fifty  years. 

Judge  Scott  did  not  know  all  things,  and  he  did 
not  know  that  he  was  party  to  a  police  conspiracy, 
that  the  evidence  was  hatched  and  perjured,  that  Jim 
Hall  was  guiltless  of  the  crime  charged.  And  Jim 
Hall,  on  the  other  hand,  did  not  know  that  Judge 
Scott  was  merely  ignorant.  Jim  Hall  believed  that 
the  judge  knew  all  about  it  and  was  hand  in  glove 
with  the  police  in  the  perpetration  of  the  monstrous 
injustice.  So  it  was,  when  the  doom  of  fifty  years 
of  living  death  was  uttered  by  Judge  Scott,  that  Jim 
Hall,  hating  all  things  in  the  society  that  misused 
him,  rose  up  and  raged  in  the  courtroom  until  dragged 


THE   SLEEPING   WOLF  319 

down  by  half  a  dozen  of  his  blue-coated  enemies. 
To  him,  Judge  Scott  was  the  keystone  in  the  arch  of 
injustice,  and  upon  Judge  Scott  he  emptied  the  vials 
of  his  wrath  and  hurled  the  threats  of  his  revenge  yet 
to  come.  Then  Jim  Hall  went  to  his  living  death 
.  .  .  and  escaped. 

Of  all  this  White  Fang  knew  nothing.  But  between 
him  and  Alice,  the  master's  wife,  there  existed  a 
secret.  Each  night,  after  Sierra  Vista  had  gone  to 
bed,  she  arose  and  let  in  White  Fang  to  sleep  in  the 
big  hall.  Now  White  Fang  was  not  a  house-dog,  nor 
was  he  permitted  to  sleep  in  the  house ;  so  each 
morning,  early,  she  slipped  down  and  let  him  out 
before  the  family  was  awake. 

On  one  such  night,  while  all  the  house  slept,  White 
Fang  awoke  and  lay  very  quietly.  And  very  quietly 
he  smelled  the  air  and  read  the  message  it  bore  of  a 
strange  god's  presence.  And  to  his  ears  came  sounds  of 
the  strange  god's  movements.  White  Fang  burst  into 
no  furious  outcry.  It  was  not  his  way.  The  strange 
god  walked  softly,  but  more  softly  walked  White 
Fang,  for  he  had  no  clothes  to  rub  against  the  flesh 
of  his  body.  He  followed  silently.  In  the  Wild  he 
had  hunted  live  meat  that  was  infinitely  timid,  and 
he  knew  the  advantage  of  surprise. 

The  strange  god  paused  at  the  foot  of  the  great 
staircase  and  listened,  and  White  Fang  was  as  dead, 
so   without   movement  was    he   as   he   watched   and 


320  WHITE   FANG 

waited.  Up  that  staircase  the  way  led  to  the  love- 
master  and  to  the  love-master's  dearest  possessions. 
White  Fang  bristled,  but  waited.  The  strange  god's 
foot  lifted.      He  was  beginning  the  ascent. 

Then  it  was  that  White  Fang  struck.  He  gave  no 
warning,  with  no  snarl  anticipated  his  own  action. 
Into  the  air  he  lifted  his  body  in  the  spring  that  landed 
him  on  the  strange  god's  back.  White  Fang  clung  with 
his  fore-paws  to  the  man's  shoulders,  at  the  same 
time  burying  his  fangs  into  the  back  of  the  man's 
neck.  He  clung  on  for  a  moment,  long  enough  to 
drag  the  god  over  backward.  Together  they  crashed 
to  the  floor.  White  Fang  leaped  clear,  and,  as  the 
man  struggled  to  rise,  was  in  again  with  the  slashing 
fangs. 

Sierra  Vista  awoke  in  alarm.  The  noise  from 
downstairs  was  as  that  of  a  score  of  battling  fiends. 
There  were  revolver  shots.  A  man's  voice  screamed 
once  in  horror  and  anguish.  There  was  a  great 
snarling  and  growling,  and  over  all  arose  a  smashing 
and  crashing  of  furniture  and  glass. 

But  almost  as  quickly  as  it  had  arisen,  the  commo- 
tion died  away.  The  struggle  had  not  lasted  more 
than  three  minutes.  The  frightened  household  clus- 
tered at  the  top  of  the  stairway.  From  below,  as 
from  out  an  abyss  of  blackness,  came  up  a  gurgling 
sound,  as  of  air  bubbling  through  water.  Sometimes 
this  gurgle  became  sibilant,  almost  a  whistle.     But 


THE   SLEEPING   WOLF  321 

this,  too,  quickly  died  down  and  ceased.  Then 
naught  came  up  out  of  the  blackness  save  a  heavy 
panting  of  some  creature  struggling  sorely  for  air. 

Weedon  Scott  pressed  a  button,  and  the  staircase 
and  downstairs  hall  were  flooded  with  light.  Then 
he  and  Judge  Scott,  revolvers  in  hand,  cautiously 
descended.  There  was  no  need  for  this  caution. 
White  Fang  had  done  his  work.  In  the  midst  of  the 
wreckage  of  overthrown  and  smashed  furniture, 
partly  on  his  side,  his  face  hidden  by  an  arm,  lay  a 
man.  Weedon  Scott  bent  over,  removed  the  arm, 
and  turned  the  man's  face  upward.  A  gaping  throat 
explained  the  manner  of  his  death. 

"  Jim  Plall,"  said  Judge  Scott,  and  father  and  son 
looked  significantly  at  each  other. 

Then  they  turned  to  White  Fang.  He,  too,  was 
lying  on  his  side.  His  eyes  were  closed,  but  the  lids 
slightly  lifted  in  an  effort  to  look  at  them  as  they 
bent  over  him,  and  the  tail  was  perceptibly  agitated 
in  a  vain  effort  to  wag.  Weedon  Scott  patted  him, 
and  his  throat  rumbled  an  acknowledging  growl. 
But  it  was  a  weak  growl  at  best,  and  it  quickly 
ceased.  His  eyelids  drooped  and  went  shut,  and 
his  whole  body  seemed  to  relax  and  flatten  out  upon 
the  floor. 

"  He's  all  in,  poor  devil,"  muttered  the  master. 

''  We'll  see  about  that,"  asserted  the  Judge,  as  he 
started  for  the  telephone. 


322  WHITE   FANG 

"Frankly,  he  has  one  chance  in  a  thousand," 
announced  the  surgeon,  after  he  had  worked  an 
hour  and  a  half  on  White  Fang. 

Dawn  was  breaking  through  the  windows  and 
dimming  the  electric  lights.  With  the  exception  of 
the  children,  the  whole  family  was  gathered  about 
the  surgeon  to  hear  his  verdict. 

"  One  broken  hind-leg,"  he  went  on.  "  Three 
broken  ribs,  one  at  least  of  which  has  pierced  the 
lungs.  He  has  lost  nearly  all  the  blood  in  his  body. 
There  is  a  large  likelihood  of  internal  injuries.  He 
must  have  been  jumped  upon.  To  say  nothing  of 
three  bullet  holes  clear  through  him.  One  chance 
in  a  thousand  is  really  optimistic.  He  hasn't  a 
chance  in  ten  thousand." 

"  But  he  mustn't  lose  any  chance  that  might  be 
of  help  to  him,"  Judge  Scott  exclaimed.  "  Never 
mind  expense.  Put  him  under  the  X-ray  —  any- 
thing. Weedon,  telegraph  at  once  to  San  Francisco 
for  Doctor  Nichols.  No  reflection  on  you,  doctor, 
you  understand ;  but  he  must  have  the  advantage 
of  every  chance." 

The  surgeon  smiled  indulgently.  "  Of  course  I 
understand.  He  deserves  all  that  can  be  done  for 
him.  He  must  be  nursed  as  you  would  nurse  a 
human  being,  a  sick  child.  And  don't  forget  what 
I  told  you  about  temperature.  I'll  be  back  at  ten 
o'clock  again." 


THE   SLEEPING  WOLF  323 

White  Fang  received  the  nursing.  Judge  Scott's 
suggestion  of  a  trained  nurse  was  indignantly  clam- 
ored down  by  the  girls,  who  themselves  undertook 
the  task.  And  White  Fang  won  out  on  the  one 
chance  in  ten  thousand  denied  him  by  the  surgeon. 

The  latter  was  not  to  be  censured  for  his  misjudg- 
ment.  All  his  life  he  had  tended  and  operated  on 
the  soft  humans  of  civilization,  who  lived  sheltered 
lives  and  had  descended  out  of  many  sheltered  gen- 
erations. Compared  with  White  Fang,  they  were 
frail  and  flabby,  and  clutched  life  without  any 
strength  in  their  grip.  White  Fang  had  come 
straight  from  the  Wild,  where  the  weak  perish  early 
and  shelter  is  vouchsafed  to  none.  In  neither  his 
father  nor  his  mother  was  there  any  weakness,  nor 
in  the  generations  before  them.  A  constitution  of 
iron  and  the  vitality  of  the  Wild  were  White  Fang's 
inheritance,  and  he  clung  to  life,  the  whole  of  him 
and  every  part  of  him,  in  spirit  and  in  flesh,  with  the 
tenacity  that  of  old  belonged  to  all  creatures. 

Bound  dovvm  a  prisoner,  denied  even  movement  by 
the  plaster  casts  and  bandages.  White  Fang  lingered 
out  the  weeks.  He  slept  long  hours  and  dreamed 
much,  and  through  his  mind  passed  an  unending 
pageant  of  Northland  visions.  All  the  ghosts  of  the 
past  arose  and  were  with  him.  Once  again  he  lived 
in  the  lair  with  Kiche,  crept  trembling  to  the  knees 
of  Gray  Beaver  to  tender  his  allegiance,  ran  for  his 


3S4  WHITE   FANG 

life  before  Lip-lip  and  all  the  howling  bedlam  of  the 
puppy-pack. 

He  ran  again  through  the  silence,  hunting  his  living 
food  through  the  months  of  famine ;  and  again  he  ran 
at  the  head  of  the  team,  the  gut-whips  of  Mit-sah  and 
Gray  Beaver  snapping  behind,  their  voices  crying 
"  Raa !  Raa  ! "  when  they  came  to  a  narrow  passage 
and  the  team  closed  together  like  a  fan  to  go  through. 
He  lived  again  all  his  days  with  Beauty  Smith  and 
the  fights  he  had  fought.  At  such  times  he  whim- 
pered and  snarled  in  his  sleep,  and  they  that  looked 
on  said  that  his  dreams  were  bad. 

But  there  was  one  particular  nightmare  from  which 
he  suffered  —  the  clanking,  clanging  monsters  of 
electric  cars  that  were  to  him  colossal  screaming 
lynxes.  He  would  lie  in  a  screen  of  bushes,  watch- 
ing for  a  squirrel  to  venture  far  enough  out  on  the 
ground  from  its  tree-refuge.  Then,  when  he  sprang 
out  upon  it,  it  would  transform  itself  into  an  electric 
car,  menacing  and  terrible,  towering  over  him  like  a 
mountain,  screaming  and  clanging  and  spitting  fire  at 
him.  It  was  the  same  when  he  challenged  the  hawk 
down  out  of  the  sky.  Down  out  of  the  blue  it  would 
rush,  as  it  dropped  upon  him  changing  itself  into  the 
ubiquitous  electric  car.  Or  again,  he  would  be  in  the 
pen  of  Beauty  Smith.  Outside  the  pen,  men  would 
be  gathering,  and  he  knew  that  a  fight  was  on.  He 
watched  the  door  for  his  antagonist  to  enter.     The 


THE   SLEEPING   WOLF  325 

door  would  open,  and  thrust  in  upon  him  would  come 
the  awful  electric  car.  A  thousand  times  this 
occurred,  and  each  time  the  terror  it  inspired  was  as 
vivid  and  great  as  ever. 

Then  came  the  day  when  the  last  bandage  and  the 
last  plaster  cast  were  taken  off.  It  was  a  gala  day. 
All  Sierra  Vista  was  gathered  around.  The  master 
rubbed  his  ears,  and  he  crooned  his  love-growl.  The 
master's  wife  called  him  the  "  Blessed  Wolf,"  which 
name  was  taken  up  with  acclaim  and  all  the  w^omen 
called  him  the  Blessed  Wolf. 

He  tried  to  rise  to  his  feet,  and  after  several 
attempts  fell  down  from  weakness.  He  had  lain 
so  long  that  his  muscles  had  lost  their  cunning,  and 
all  the  strength  had  gone  out  of  them.  He  felt  a 
little  shame  because  of  his  weakness,  as  though,  for- 
sooth, he  were  failing  the  gods  in  the  service  he  owed 
them.  Because  of  this  he  made  heroic  efforts  to  arise, 
and  at  last  he  stood  on  his  four  legs,  tottering  and 
sw^aying  back  and  forth. 

"  The  Blessed  Wolf  1 "  chorused  the  women. 

Judge  Scott  surveyed  them  triumphantly. 

"  Out  of  your  own  mouths  be  it,"  he  said.  "  Just  as  I 
contended  right  along.  No  mere  dog  could  have  done 
w^hat  he  did.      He's  a  wolf." 

"  A  Blessed  Wolf,"  amended  the  Judge's  wife. 

"  Yes,  Blessed  Wolf,"  agreed  the  Judge.  "  And 
henceforth  that  shall  be  my  name  for  him." 


326  WHITE   FANG 


<'  He'll  have  to  learn  to  walk  again,"  said  the  sur- 
geon ;  "  so  he  might  as  well  start  in  right  now.  It 
won't  hurt  him.     Take  him  outside." 

And  outside  he  went,  like  a  king,  with  all  Sierra 
Vista  about  him  and  tending  on  him.  He  was  very 
weak,  and  when  he  reached  the  lawn  he  lay  down 
and  rested  for  a  while. 

Then  the  procession  started  on,  little  spurts  of 
strength  coming  into  White  Fang's  muscles  as  he  used 
them  and  the  blood  began  to  surge  through  them. 
The  stables  were  reached,  and  there  in  the  doorway 
lay  Collie,  a  half-dozen  pudgy  puppies  playing  about 
her  in  the  sun. 

White  Fang  looked  on  with  a  wondering  eye. 
Collie  snarled  warningly  at  him,  and  he  was  careful 
to  keep  his  distance.  The  master  with  his  toe  helped 
one  sprawling  puppy  toward  him.  He  bristled  sus- 
piciously, but  the  master  warned  him  that  all  was 
well.  Collie,  clasped  in  the  arms  of  one  of  the 
women,  watched  him  jealously  and  with  a  snarl 
warned  him  that  all  was  not  well. 

The  puppy  sprawled  in  front  of  him.  He  cocked 
his  ears  and  watched  it  curiously.  Then  their  noses 
touched,  and  he  felt  the  warm  little  tongue  of  the 
puppy  on  his-  jowl.  White  Fang's  tongue  went  out, 
he  knew  not  why,  and  he  licked  the  puppy's  face. 

Hand-clapping  and  pleased  cries  from  the  gods 
greeted   the    performance.     He    was    surprised,    and 


THE  SLEEPING  WOLF  327 

looked  at  them  in  a  puzzled  ,vay.  Then  his  weak- 
ness asserted  itself,  and  he  lay  down,  his  ears  cocked, 
his  head  on  one  side,  as  he  watched  the  puppy.  The 
other  puppies  came  sprawling  toward  him,  to  Collie's 
great  disgust ;  and  he  gravely  permitted  them  to 
clamber  and  tumble  over  him.  At  first,  amid  the 
applause  of  the  gods,  he  betrayed  a  trifle  of  his  old 
self-consciousness  and  awkwardness.  This  passed 
away  as  the  puppies'  antics  and  mauling  continued, 
and  he  lay  with  half-shut^  patient  eyes,  drowsing  in 
the  sun. 


O^^ 


i 


Xt^-^V 


*l 


WORKS  BY  JACK  LONDON 


THE  GAME 

A  TRANSCRIPT  FROM   REAL  LIFE 
With  illustrations  in  color  by  HENRY  HUTT 

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"  One  cannot  read  the  stOTy  without  a  thrilling,  sympathetic  interest.  .  .  ♦ 
The  story  is  done  with  such  a  fine  mingling  of  freedom  and  reserve,  in  lines  so 
bold  and  strsight  and  simple,  that  it  storms  th«  imagiaatioa  and  takes  it  unre- 
sisting." —  The  Louisville  Post. 

"  It  is  told  with  such  a  glow  of  imaginative  illusion,  with  such  intense  dra- 
matic vigor,  with  such  effective  audacity  of  phrase,  that  it  almost  seems  as  if  the 
author's  appeal  was  to  the  bodily  eye  as  much  as  to  the  inner  mentality,  and  that 
the  events  are  actually  happening  before  the  reader." —  The  Neta  York  Herald. 

"  The  narrative  is  the  perfection  of  art  as  a  sporting  story,  and  as  clear-cut 
and  virile  as  a  sculptor's  model  of  the  ideal  athlete." —  The  Boston  Herald, 


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*'  Mr.  London's  book  is  thoroughly  interesting,  and  Mr.  London's  point  of 
view  is,  as  may  be  surmised,  very  different  from  that  of  the  closet  theorist."  — 
Springfield  Republican. 

"His  clear  and  incisive  thinking  arrests  attention  —  on  many  points  carries 
conviction — and  on  the  whole  illuminates  its  subject."  —  Chicago  Record- 
Herald. 

"  The  book  is  worth  thoughtful  consideratioa-''  —  CongregaOonalisl. 

"  The  statements  of  this  book  are  as  bare  and  bold  as  the  story  of  the  *  Sea- 
Wolf,'  and  present  the  socialists'  and  laborers'  side  of  the  economic  situation 
with  vigor,  clearness,  and  imprcssiveness." —  The  IVatchman,, 


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WORKS    BT   JACK    LONDON 


THE  SEA-WOLF 

With  illustrations  by  W.  J.  Aylward 
Clotb       12mo       SI.SO 

" '  The  Sea-Wolf,'  Jack  London's  latest  novel  of  adventure,  is  one 
that  every  reader  with  good  r^  biooa  in  his  veins  will  hail  with 
delight.  'There  is  no  fumbling  of  the  trigger  here,  no  nervous  and 
nncertaia  sighting  along  the  fjarrel,  ;)ut  the  quick  decisive  aim  and 
the  bull's-eye  ev-ry  time."  —  Mail  and  Rxprgss,  New  York. 

"Jack  London's  'The  Sea- Wolf*  is  marvellously  truthful.  ,  .  . 
Reading  it  through  at  a  sitting,  we  have  found  it  poignantly  interest- 
ing .  .  .  a  superb  piece  of  craftsmanship."  —  The  New  York  Tribune. 

"  Excitmg,  original,  fascinating.  .  .  .  Novel  and  pleasing.  .  .  . 
So  onginal,  vivid,  and  daring  that  it  commands  attention." 

—  Chicago  Record-Herald, 

THE  CALL  OF  THE  WILD 

With  illustrations  in  color  by  Philip  R.  Goodwin  and  Charles 

Livingston  Bull 

Decorated  by  Charles  Edward  Hooper 

Cloth       12mo       $l.SO 

"  A  big  story  in  sober  English  and  with  thorough  art  in  the  con- 
struction ;  a  wonderfully  perfect  bit  of  work ;  a  book  that  will  be 
heard  of.  The  dog's  adventures  are  as  exciting  as  any  man's  ex- 
ploits could  be,  and  Mr.  London's  workmanship  is  wholly  satisfy- 
ing." —  The  New  York  Sun. 

"  Even  the  most  listless  reader  will  be  stirred  by  the  virile  force 
of  the  story,  the  strong,  sweeping  strokes  with  which  the  pictures  of 
the  northern  wilds  and  the  life  therein  are  painted  by  the  narrator, 
and  the  insight  given  into  the  soul  of  the  primitive  in  nature.  .  .  . 
More  than  that,  it  is  one  of  the  very  best  stories  of  the  year,  and  one 
that  will  not  be  forgotten." — ■  The  Plain  Dealer,  Cleveland. 

"The  story  is  one  that  will  stir  the  blood  of  every  lover  of  a  life 
in  its  closest  relation  to  nature.  Whoever  loves  the  open  or  adven- 
ture for  its  own  sake  will  find  'The  Call  of  the  Wild'  a  most  fasci- 
nating book." —  The  Brooklyn  Eagle. 


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TFORKS    BT    JACK   LONDON 
THE  FAITH  OF  MEN 

And  Other  Stories 

Clotb       12mo       $1.30 

*'  Mr.  London's  art  as  a  story-teller  nowhere  manifests  itself  more 
strongly  than  in  the  sv^ift,  dramatic  close  of  his  stories.  There  is  no 
hesitancy  or  uncertainty  of  touch.  From  the  start  the  story  moves 
Straight  to  the  inevitable  conciusioru*' — CcrurUr-JoumaL 

TPiE  CHILDREN  OF  THE  FROST 

With  illustrations  by  RAPHAEL  M.  ReaY 

Cloth       t2mo       SI.50 

"Told  with  something  of  that  same  vigorous  and  honest  manli- 
ness and  indifference  with  which  Mr.  Kipling  makes  unbegging  yet 
direct  and  unfailing  appeal  to  the  sympainy  of  his  reader." 

— RUhmond  Dispatch^ 

THE  PEOPLE  OF  THE  ABYSS 

With  many  illustrations  from  photographs 

Cloth       l2mo       $i.30  net 

"  Mr.  London's  book  is  a  powerful  presentation  of  a  repellent 
theme,  but  it  is  well  that  thinking  men  should  know  the  facts  about 
these  horrors  —  hunger  and  filth  and  cold  and  suffering— that  they 
may  set  to  work  to  change  a  system  that  works  such  an  iniquity," 

—  NashvilU  News. 

THE  KEMPTON-WACE  LETTERS 

By  JACK  LONDON  and  ANNA  STEUNSKY 

Cloth       Umo       $1.50 

"  I  am  much  impressed  by  the  book  ...  it  is  an  entertaining, 
thought-compelling  work.  I  should  not  be  surprised  if  it  became  a 
classic  on  the  subject  of  love." 

—  Edwin  ^L\RKHAM,  Westerleigh,  Staten  Island,  N.Y. 


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WORKS  BY  JACK  LONDON 

MOON-FACE 

Al^D  OTHER  STORIES 

Cloth  12mo  .  $1  50 

Jack  London  first  acquired  ftune  through  his  spirited  and  vigorous  short 
stories  of  Aiaskan  life,  wherein  men  or  primary  passions  and  appetites  struggle 
for  mastery.  Each  succeeding  voiume  of  his  tales  has  served  to  increase  his 
vogue.  He  is  one  of  the  three  or  four  American  writers  whose  books  of  short 
stories  are  in  very  large  demand  at  the  present  timCo 


Tales  of  the  Fish  Patrol 

With  Illustrations  by  George  Varian 

Cloth  12mo  $1.50 

**  These  are  good  and  vigorous  stories,  made  yet  more  interesting  by  th 
fact  that  their  theme  is  comparatively  fresh  and  unfamiliar." 

— 'Richmond  Times-Dispatch. 

*'  That  they  are  vividly  told  hardly  need  be  said,  for  Jack  London  is  a  real- 
ist as  well  as  a  writer  of  thrilling  romances."  —  Cleveland  Plain  Dealer. 

"They  are  good  stories  of  adventure  to  which  the  background  of  truth 
lends  additional  interest."  — ■  Toledo  Daily  Blade. 


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64-66  FIFTH  ATONTJE,  NEW  YOKE 


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